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Council to Hire Law Firm to Rebut Allegation

August 26, 2000

INGLEWOOD — The City Council has approved spending $50,000 to $100,000 for special outside counsel to respond to an allegation that officials violated the state's open meetings law.

The council voted 3 to 1 to hire an as-yet unnamed law firm for the case.

The vote followed allegations submitted last week by Councilwoman Judy Dunlap and former Councilman George Gerard that council members, the city administrative officer and the city attorney breached the Ralph M. Brown Act during council meetings June 27 and July 18. The Brown Act requires the public be adequately notified of items decided on by elected bodies.

Dunlap and Gerard contended that City Administrative Officer Joseph T. Rouzan Jr. conducted a "serial meeting," or met individually with most of the council, to assess positions on a proposal for city employee pay raises. Such discussions prior to a vote are illegal under the Brown Act.

Dunlap and Gerard also accused other council members of conspiring with Rouzan and City Atty. Charles E. Dickerson III to keep from the public information on a closed-session item July 18.

Rouzan has denied all allegations. On Tuesday, he said the outside counsel was necessary because Dickerson had been named in the complaint.

"I don't know where their allegations are coming from or their purpose, but we have to respond," Rouzan said.

Dunlap abstained on the motion and Councilman Jerome E. Horton was absent.

The vote underscores a schism in the council that pits Dunlap against her colleagues and Rouzan. Dunlap has accused Rouzan of failing to provide her with city documents she requested. Rouzan has countered that Dunlap's requests were unreasonable and time-consuming.

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