Little attention is being given to California’s decision to suspend the agenda requirement part of the Open Meeting Law, otherwise known as The Ralph M Brown Act. The Brown Act was enacted in 1953 to safeguard the people’s rights to participate in local government. However, last month a key element of the Brown Act was suspended for budgetary reasons. City councils and other local governing boards no longer have to post agendas or disclose what was discussed in closed session. While this move saves the state an estimated $96 million dollars, the cost to the people can not be measured in money.
How will this affect the citizens of 29 Palms? Surrounding cities are vowing to continue to adhere to the agenda and closed session parts of the Brown Act, even though they no longer are legally required to do so. With the echoes of the City of Bell’s scandals still ringing in the heads of citizens, it would be prudent for all cities to continue to hold themselves to the highest standards. The League of California Cities is expected to urge its member cities to follow the law in its entirety.
We the people do not depend upon the government to enforce our right to know, we will continue to press local governments to operate with full disclosure and our pleasure or displeasure of the recent acts of our city and of any future acts will be made known with our vote.
PREAMBLE to the Brown Act 54950 Ch. I
Public commissions, boards, councils and other legislative bodies of local government agencies exist to aid in the conduct of the people’s business. The people do not yield their sovereignty to the bodies that serve them. The people insist on remaining informed to retain control over the legislative bodies they have created.
A nation under a well regulated government, should permit none to remain uninstructed. It is monarchical and aristocratical government only that requires ignorance for its support. -Thomas Paine, Rights of Man.