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UT to Stocks, Dalager, and Bond, "You're Bad"
Encinitas versus the public's right to know
December 13, 2007
...How refreshing for the media, then, that a Brown Act issue in Encinitas is being raised by two council members, Teresa Barth and Maggie Houlihan, supportive of transparency in government.
Encinitas has adopted the practice of calling routine closed meetings “special” meetings, reducing the public notification requirement from 72 hours to 24 hours. City Attorney Glenn Sabine has advised the council that it can do so.
But “can” and “should” are two different questions.
Yes, the council majority of James Bond, Dan Dalager and Jerome Stocks can argue that the public and media are barred from attending closed meetings so the amount of advance notice is immaterial. But history has shown that removing transparency about public meetings and government procedures is often the first step to bad – sometimes very bad – governmental decisions...
Some public bodies are tempted to consider delicate matters in closed session, matters that legally should be brought before open session. Depriving the public of significant advance notice of closed-session agendas effectively reduces the opportunity for legal challenges beforehand...
Our thanks go to Barth and Houlihan for providing us this opportunity to enlighten the public on how public bodies should conduct their meetings...
This coastal city should end its obfuscatory practice now. Encinitas chooses to call its closed meetings “special.” We call them abhorrent.
ETA NOTE: If the City had taken up Kevin Cummins' proposal to craft a sunshine ordinance this editorial would never have been written because this issue, and others, could have then been dealt with in an open forum and without contention.