The LA County Observer

Observations of a LA County Resident

I think I’ll title this post “The Los Angeles Times motto ‘Don’t Publish the Story Especially when it comes to the LA County Board of Supervisors’”

Written By: raconte - Nov• 06•16
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A couple of weeks ago the LA County Board of Supervisors ordered the boardroom cleared, went into closed session and when they returned kept the meeting closed to all but the press. They did this in response to a disruption caused by a handful of protestors. Unfortunately, few in LA County are probably aware that this had happened since the LA Times failed to report on what happened that day, but in their defense they had no reporter assigned to cover the Board that day.

I thought I’d submit an op-ed to the LA Times with the hope that they’d run it – silly me thinking that they’d run an op-ed from just a “regular old person”. So since the LA Times couldn’t be bothered I’ve attached what I submitted to the LA Times below.

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On October 25th the Board of Supervisors made the rare decision to clear the boardroom and go into closed session. What could drive the Supervisors to such drastic action, you may ask. The answer would be protestors.

Over the past several months there’ve been numerous individuals who’ve come to the Board of Supervisors meeting to petition that the Supervisors vote no to the building the Mira Loma Women’s Detention Center to be located in Lancaster. They’ve addressed the Board each and every time the item has been before the Board enumerating the many reasons why they oppose not just the Mira Loma Women’s Detention Center, but also the building of any jail!

Last Tuesday their protests reached a crescendo when a group of about 15 individuals began to shout “No More Jails!” “What do we want?” “No More Jails!” They shouted down Supervisor Solis and Ridley-Thomas. And as the protestors grew louder Solis called the meeting into recess and ordered the room cleared. Shortly after clearing the room the Board went into closed session, but when they returned from closed session the Pubic was barred from returning. The Board choose to only allow the Press to join them for the remainder of the meeting.

The Board’s decision may or may not have violated the Brown Act, that’ll be up to DA Jackie Lacey – as I’m aware that there’ve been several Brown Act violation complaints filed with her office – mine included. The Brown Act allows the Board to remove disruptive individuals and it even allows them to bar those individuals from returning. However, I wonder if the Board had other options available to them rather then clearing the entire room and then closing the meeting to all members of the public, you know those of us not involved in the disruptive behavior?

There were about 15 people causing the disruption and they were gathered together on one side of the Boardroom. Could they have been ushered out as a group? Perhaps. Then after the recess, when cooler heads prevailed and most if not all the protestors had left, perhaps the Board could’ve allowed the remaining members of the public back into the Boardroom, after all there were still items to be discussed. The Board could’ve chosen to allow us in with the understanding that any disruptive behavior would be met with immediate expulsion, but that wasn’t an option they chose.

There have been several Board decisions and actions of late that have made me quite concerned about the whittling away of the Public’s rights under our State’s open meeting laws, and specifically the Brown Act, to address the Board. Long gone are the twice a week meetings (Tuesdays and Thursdays) that the Board once held, now the business of 10 million people is condensed down into one day and often a large portion of the meeting is dedicated for awards. While the Public is given time (six minutes in total) to address items on the agenda, we now have no control on how we can use those six minutes since Solis has become the Chair we are limited to 3 minutes for agenda items and two minutes at public comment. Of course that assuming the County Counsel doesn’t interrupt you with her opinion that the speaker is off topic – the function of the Chair. I guess County Counsel is under the delusion that she’s been elected the “sixth supervisor”. Several weeks ago County Counsel even went so far as to make a motion to prohibit a member of the public to attend Board meetings until after the New Year. How do I know this, well County Counsel order the person kicked out and banned until after the New Year, Solis uttered the magic words “so moved” – sounds like County Counsel made a motion to me. But by this Tuesday, November 1st, this same public member was allowed back and provided an opportunity to address the Board.

How long will the public accept the tyranny of the Board? Granted some members of the public shouldn’t behave the way they did the other day, but the constant eroding of the public’s rights and the lack of civility from both sides will only continue to breed contempt from both sides and I’m afraid that things will not finish well.

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