Public access to some of the inner workings of Los Angeles County government diminished this week when Chief Executive Officer William T Fujioka ended his weekly media briefing.
The briefings have been held since 1993 by Fujioka and his predecessors, and they provided reporters an opportunity to ask about county issues.
Fujioka cited "scheduling conflicts" for his decision to end the practice and said he would be available to talk about news items by phone.
In a telephone interview, however, he said any newspaper report on his decision to end the briefings would be "another hit piece" and abruptly hung up.
The Times reported last week that a citizen's watchdog group commissioned by county supervisors found that the recently restructured office of chief executive officer was falling short of its goal to improve efficiency and clarify lines of authority.
Fujioka's on-the-record briefings have drawn fewer reporters in recent months as many news organizations have experienced cutbacks, but they were still regularly attended by The Times and City News Service.
Tony Bell, a spokesman for Supervisor Mike Antonovich, said his office didn't object to Fujioka's decision to end the Monday morning briefings as long as a suitable replacement was put in place.
"The CEO has been very open with the departments and the Board of Supervisors, and that openness should extend to the press," he said.