Public comments end committee meeting

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The Idyllwild Fire District’s Finance Committee held a brief meeting Monday afternoon. The first item was public comments and Jeff Smith of Pine Cove, pointed out that the posted and distributed agenda said the meeting was “Wednesday, July 7” instead of “Monday.”

Since the public might be confused as to the actual meeting date, Smith said he intended to seek “injunctive relief” to compel the district to follow proper procedures and record all meetings.

After further public comments, Chair Nancy Layton asked the other present committee members — Chris Davis and Calvin Gogerty — whether they wished to continue the meeting or adjourn it. Gogerty recommended adjournment and Layton agreed to end the meeting.

Prior to the public comment, Layton distributed a written statement from absent committee member Sue Weisbart regarding the recent grand jury report finding that the commission and the committee had committed a Brown Act violation by holding a meeting at the county Emergency Dispatch Center with quorums of both the commission and the committee present

Weisbart alleged that Riverside County Fire Department should have posted a notice of the meeting and since the commissioners and committee members who attended were observers, “I hereby deny any violations of the Ralph M. Brown Act.”

However, section of the Brown Act (Gov. Code section 54952.2 [a]) defines meetings as “‘meeting’ means any congregation of a majority of the members of a legislative body at the same time and location… to hear, discuss, deliberate, or take action on any item that is within the subject matter jurisdiction of the legislative body.”

Consequently, mere presence — neither dialogue, debate nor a vote — defines a meeting. Unfortunately, the committee could not discuss its overall position since the meeting was adjourned before any actions were taken.

Further, the County Fire Department is not a legislative body, just as the Idyllwild Fire Department is not. So Riverside County Fire had no need to give a Brown Act notice. But the Board of Supervisors and IFPD commissioners and its Finance Committee do constitute a legislative body.

 

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