OPEN MEETINGS — The Los Angeles Times reports that the Long Beach City Council will hold a public hearing on whether or not to lease its commercial airport to private investors after critics called for greater "transparency" in the important policy discussion.
"I object to the closed session," said William Pearl, editor and publisher of LBReport.com, a local news website. "This is designed to keep a major policy decision secret."
Late last year, the city received unsolicited inquiries about the sale or lease of Long Beach Airport assets from major banks and Wall Street firms, including Citigroup, J.P. Morgan, Goldman Sachs, Merrill Lynch, and Morgan Stanley.
At Tuesday's council meeting, citizens questioned the excuse from city officials that real estate transactions were going to be addressed, hence the discussion could be closed to the public under the Ralph M. Brown Act, the state's open meetings law.
The citizens are right. The Brown Act permits closed sessions to discuss, with the council's negotiator, the status of negotiations with a specific party. The question is whether the city officials were serious about their interpretation, or knew it was not the law but assumed that the public would not call them on it.