The Associated Students Legislative Council barred all members of the public yesterday from a portion of their regular Wednesday night meeting.
At 6:15 p.m., Internal Vice President Chris Wendle informed members of the public that they would no longer be permitted in what the council deemed a closed meeting. The public was expelled from the session without being informed of the nature of the discussion. When the meeting was reopened to the public over an hour and a half later, Wendle told the Daily Nexus that they had been discussing matters of pending litigation, but would not elaborate further.
“At this time, I can’t say anything about the closed meeting,” Wendle said. “It’s pending litigation. It was not placed on the original agenda, and I did not give 24-hour notice. I really can’t say anything at this point.”
Under the California Brown Act, the public is guaranteed the right to attend and participate in meetings of local legislative bodies. The act permits a closed meeting only in particular circumstances and demands that all items considered must be described in the meeting’s agenda.
While “pending litigation” can be protected under the Brown Act as an acceptable matter for closed meetings, certain criteria must be followed. The Brown Act requires that any matter of pending litigation be discussed in the presence of the legislative body’s attorney, but A.S. had no attorney present during the proceedings.
“If the attorney is not present (either in person or by teleconference means), the closed session may not be conducted,” an Office of the Attorney General memo states.
The law also requires the closed session’s purpose both be explicitly stated on the agenda 24 hours ahead of time and announced in person to everyone present at the meeting.
“Each closed-session meeting must be preceded by a public agenda and by an oral announcement,” the law states. “When final action is taken in closed session, the legislative body may be required to report on such action.”
And, the act states, if a legislative body fails to meet these stipulations, anything discussed within the closed meeting must be disclosed to the public, except in situations of extreme or mortal emergency.
“Thus if a specific statutory exception authorizing a closed session cannot be found, the matter must be conducted in public regardless of its sensitivity,” the act says.
The Brown Act, passed in 1953, governs open meetings for local legislative bodies. Under the law — pursuant to certain requirements — discussions of personnel, public safety, pending litigation, labor negotiations and real property negotiations can be discussed behind closed doors.
“[The act was passed] to curb misuse of the democratic process by secret legislation by public bodies,” the Brown Act states.
Wendle and A.S. President Charlie Arreola did not return calls for comment following the meeting’s adjournment.
— Matt Matejcek contributed to this article.
You and your "Brown Act" sound suspiciously racist.
Legislative council is not a public governmental agency. The brown act isn’t relevant. That’s why the ucsb board about parking can meet in closed session. fact check here!
Let me Google that for you, asshat.https://www.splc.org/legalresearch.asp?id=69 "Only the statutes in California, Nevada and Washington list student governments in the category of public bodies that must be open …. For example, statutes that expressly cover "committees" or "subunits" of a public body usually will open the meetings of student governments, especially where they have been delegated some decision-making authority from the board of regents. Examples of states with this type of statute are Colorado, Illinois, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Hampshire, Ohio and Vermont." …. "California — Cal. Gov’t. Code 9027 Sec. 9032 (Assembly & Senate), 11120 – 11131 (State Agencies), 54950.5… Read more »
Ho ho ho, WHAT DID THE FIVE FINGERS SAY TO THE FACE?
You’re more than occassionally wrongIt’s in your OWN QUOTE, for crying out load: "A journalist may have trouble arguing that a [UC] student government meeting is subject to the open meetings act." It’s not even referencing the Brown Act, by the way – it’s referencing the Bagley-Keane Open Meeting Act. It’s like you didn’t even read your own quote. (Color me not surprised…) The only standing you *might* have is that this issue wasn’t litigated. But it’s clear that the attorney general’s opinion was NOT referring to the UC or CSU student governments. Therefore, your argument amounts to nothing more… Read more »
And your point is?I agree that the Brown Act doesn’t apply. I never said it did, and I never used the Brown Act when I cited law to A.S. when I was there. My first comment on this article wasn’t an endorsement for their research on the issue. I was just being snarky. And yes, I know Bagley-Keane would be the appropriate one. But… To address your point "The only standing you *might* have is that this issue wasn’t litigated" that’s why I think it would be an interesting legal case. I complete agree with you. I think this is… Read more »