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Around the Halls: A Recess Look at How to Access Council Information

By Eric Richardson
Published: Monday, December 28, 2009, at 12:57PM
_IGP9728.JPG Ed Fuentes

Looking down a wing of City Hall's historic 3rd floor, home to the Council Chambers.

Each Monday morning, blogdowntown publishes a look at items of Downtown significance making their way through City Hall. This week, though, City Council is on recess. That makes for the perfect opportunity to take a moment and offer up some resources that blogdowntown readers should be sure to know if they want to stay informed about how the City works.

Council File Management System

Run by the City Clerk's office, the Council File Management System is your go-to source for pulling up documents relating to the items working their way through the City Council process.

When a Councilmember makes a motion or a City department forwards a report, a Council File is created and given a unique number. The file numbers are simple -- just the two digit year plus an incremental four digit number. For instance, the most recently introduced Council File is CF 09-3080, an item added today and pertaining to a lease with Raytheon at the Van Nuys Airport.

Via the CFMS system, one can pull up PDF copies of all the documents that get attached to a file through its journey -- original motions, departmental reports, committee recommendations and the like. The system will also say which committees a file has been referred to, or when it is scheduled for council.

Council Calendar

The Council Calendar provides a listing of what meetings are taking place each week, with links to PDF versions of the agenda. California's Brown Act requires that agendas be posted 72 hours in advance of the meeting, so typically that means that there's a three-day view of what's coming.

That's not always the case, though -- special meetings can be published just 24 hours in advance, either adding to the lineup for an existing meeting or noticing a previously unannounced session.

Committee Audio

Downtowners have a geographic advantage when they want to make it to a Council meeting, but there are several way to listen in to meetings without having to visit City Hall.

If you want to catch a committee meeting live, you can do so either via an online audio stream or by calling Council Phone at 213-621-CITY.

For meetings that have already happened, MP3 files are typically available for download within an hour or two of the end of the session. They're often handier than the Windows Media files when it comes to scanning through looking for a particular item.

Council Meetings

Meetings of the City Council are typically boring affairs. Usually, the fun stuff happens in committee meetings and by the time an item gets to council it has already been decided. Still, for those times when tuning in is a worthwhile endeavor, there are a variety of ways to do so.

Video of council meetings can be found online both live and after the fact. The meetings are also broadcast by LACityView, both on their website and on channel 35. Audio versions can also be downloaded, and Council Phone can again provide live listening via the telephone.

Municipal Code

Curious to look up the law after it has been passed? Los Angeles' Municipal Code is available online, always offering random bits of trivia for parties or other social events.

Here's to a more informed 2010...

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Around the Halls

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