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Los Angeles County bans public as well as the press

The rooms and corridors immediately behind the county supervisors' meeting room are closed to people who don't work there unless they have escorts.

October 30, 2009|Garrett Therolf

A ban issued this month to keep reporters out of the rooms and corridors immediately behind the Los Angeles County supervisors' meeting room was extended this week to all non-county employees.

Under the latest rule, supervisors or their staff must escort all visitors in the areas, where many department heads and aides watch the meetings on television screens.

The most recent memorandum was requested by Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky, who said he wanted staffers to address the "little dust-up" over a policy that kicked out only journalists, who had long had access to those areas for interviews.

Staffers claimed the restriction was needed to prevent "traffic jams," despite the shrinking ranks of journalists covering the county.

Lobbyists, union officials and others who also frequented the areas were still allowed access.

"I didn't think it was anybody's intent to differentiate that way and, frankly, I've never seen a lobbyist back there, but I don't know all the lobbyists so maybe I've missed one," Yaroslavsky said.

A Yaroslavsky aide later acknowledged that lobbyists do indeed roam the back areas. County staffers made it clear that the ban was initially solely targeted at the press.

"The public is welcome here, it's the press who is not," Ryan Alsop, assistant chief executive, said as he escorted a reporter out of the back area earlier this month.

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garrett.therolf@latimes.com

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