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DLANC: June Executive Committee Meeting

By Eric Richardson
Published: Wednesday, June 08, 2005, at 01:12PM

Last night saw meetings of both DLANC's Executive Committee and its Budget & Finance Committee. I was there for the Exec. meeting as an observer (actually I just happened to get there early for Budget & Finance), and then was a new committee member for the second meeting.

I'll write about Budget & Finance later, but first let's get into the Executive Committee meeting. There's fun a-brewing these days, as was sort of portended in the special election results post. More about accusations of Brown Act violations, Robert's Rules, and conflicts of interest after the jump.

Brady, Susan and Ed were present to begin the meeting. Kai arrived later, and Ken was absent.

The Complaint

The main business of the evening was starting to process to handle a complaint of a Brown Act violation initiated by recently deposed Board member John Sellars. I haven't seen the actual complaint, so I'm only repeating what was presented at the meeting, but basically the complaint alleges two things:

  • That the May 3rd Executive Committee meeting was noticed as a special meeting, even though it was held at the normal time.
  • and that the agenda for this meeting only noticed that items would be put on the Board agenda, but did not give notice that specific items would be put on that agenda (particularly, I'm sure, referring to the Exec. committee putting the item of his removal on the May 10th Board Meeting agenda).

The Brown Act

The intent of the Brown Act is to ensure that meetings are conducted in an open fashion. It requires that meetings be noticed 72-hours in advance for a regular meeting, and 24-hours in advance for "special" meetings. The definition of what makes a meeting special is not spelled out in the Act, and it seems to have been interpreted loosely.

Special Meetings

I have seen no language to suggest that it is illegal for a body to call a special meeting that occurs at the time and place custom would dictate a normal meeting would have occured. I've complained about City Council calling special meetings at the last second before, but not because I think they've violated the law.

What Makes an Action?

The second question is interesting, because I think it gets into the definition of what actually constitutes an action. In other words, if the Executive Committee puts something on the Board agenda, but does not vote on it, is that an action? I'll quote here from a 2003 Brown Act reference published by the California Attorney General's Office (2-Part PDF: Intro and Body).

The agenda requirement does not apply when certain unnoticed topics are discussed at a noticed meeting. ... In addition, any member of the body or the body as a whole, subject to rules or procedures of the legislative body, may provide a reference to staff or other resources for factual information, request staff to report back to the body at a subsequent meeting concerning any matter, or take action to direct staff to place a matter of business on a future agenda. (

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