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County to Appeal Ruling on Brown Act

November 27, 2003|From a Times Staff Writer

Los Angeles County plans to appeal a court ruling that the Board of Supervisors and its attorney violated the state's open meeting law, the Ralph M. Brown Act. The supervisors voted in closed session Tuesday to appeal the state appellate court's Oct. 29 decision, but their lawyers did not immediately disclose the vote -- also a violation of the Brown Act.

The lawsuit, brought by The Times, charged that the board and County Counsel Lloyd Pellman broke the law during a series of closed meetings in 2001, in which the officials discussed how to block a ballot initiative that would have cost the county money.

The court found that Pellman and the lawmakers tried to conceal the Brown Act violation from the public and ordered the county to pay the newspaper's legal fees, which exceed $100,000.

The decision to appeal the case, and the failure to disclose that decision, outraged 1st Amendment advocates.

"If the county is so broke, how come they're appealing a case they've already lost?" asked Karen Ocamb, head of the Los Angeles Sunshine Coalition, a group of journalism and civic organizations that favor open government. "It's a waste of taxpayers' money."

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