Anyone not a part of a governmental body may invite a governmental body to a meeting without the onus falling on the anyone to follow the body’s rules.
The “anyone” in the March case of the IFPD Brown Act violations was Riverside County Fire Chief John Hawkins.
In Susan Weisbart’s response to the grand jury determination that the meeting was a BA violation, she tried to put the onus on Hawkins, head of a county department not a public body.
She uses language in her response that also clearly indicates the IFPD group violated the BA such as “presence,” “attendance,” “tour,” “better understand,” “in order to make a decision,” “I did ask a question” and “observers only.”
Obviously, if the Town Crier, concerned citizens and the grand jury all are conscious that this was two blatant Brown Act violations (the IFPD commission and a committee), then is it at all possible that Ms. Weisbart is wrong?
Well, let’s look at the BA itself: A meeting as defined by the Act includes any “congregation by a majority” of a legislative body at the same time and place to “hear, discuss, or deliberate” on any matter within the jurisdiction of the body.
As the Attorney General explains: “This definition makes it clear that the body need not take any action in order for a gathering to be defined as a meeting. A gathering is a meeting if a majority of the members of the body merely receive information or discuss their views on an issue.”
How clear is that? How much longer are you going to hide your heads in the sand?
Becky Clark, Editor