San Diego County supervisors are expected to affirm their allegiance to open government Tuesday in response to the state suspending some requirements of the Brown Act as a means of cutting costs.
The Ralph M. Brown Act, enacted in 1953, required open, publicized meetings and guaranteed the public could participate.
Last month, the Legislature agreed to suspend for three years a requirement that local governments post agendas 72 hours in advance of meetings. Also suspended was the requirement to make public actions taken by government agencies in closed sessions, which are permitted in discussions of lawsuits and some personnel matters.
Regardless of the recent state action, Supervisor Pam Slater-Price said she planned to ask the Board of Supervisors to uphold the 72-hour notice requirement for councils agendas and other committee and commission meetings and to continue to publicly announce decisions made in private.
Supervisor Dianne Jacob, who represents Ramona and East County communities, agrees.
“I strongly oppose the state’s recent action to suspend portions of the Brown Act and I’m offended by the Legislature’s disregard for transparency,” Jacob said via email on Friday. “Last week, I was assured that the county will not change its compliance procedures and I’m supportive of the board action next week.
“Over the years, the state has not reimbursed the county for the cost of complying, which shows you how little the state cares about its own mandates, even important mandates like this one. The County has always absorbed Brown Act-related costs so the state’s claim about this step saving money is questionable.”
The County of San Diego takes pride in the open, inclusive and accessible culture of its elected and appointed bodies, noted Slater-Price.
“Accordingly, the county resolves to maintain a ‘business as usual’ approach to the reporting of actions taken in closed session and to the posting of agendas and other public documents,” Slater-Price wrote in a letter to the board.