OPEN MEETINGS — The City of Fillmore has settled a lawsuit filed by Richard McKee, president emeritus of Californians Aware, for allegedly violating the Brown Act, reports Mike Harris in the Ventura County Star.
Under the settlement, the city will issue a written statement
admitting that Brown Act violations occurred at an Aug. 25 City Council
meeting. City Attorney Ted Schneider characterized them as potential
unintentional technical violations.
The settlement also requires the City Council to take two hours of
Brown Act retraining conducted by Schneider with McKees participation.
It further requires the city to pay $6,000 of McKees attorneys fees
in bringing the lawsuit.
In return, McKee will dismiss the lawsuit.
On the morning of Aug. 25, Councilman Steve Conaway accused three
other unnamed members of the five-member council of violating the Brown
Act by exchanging emails earlier in the month with Larry Pennell, who
was then the citys interim city manager. Conaway alleged that the
exchanges, which concerned a candidate for the permanent city manager
position, constituted a private meeting of the council.
Walker began the councils meeting that night by requesting an
immediate closed session to discuss Conaways accusations. About an
hour later, the council returned to its public session, where Walker
announced that an unintentional Brown Act violation has occurred.
McKees lawsuit alleged that because the closed session was not
listed on the councils agenda, it constituted a second Brown Act
Last month, however, the Ventura County District Attorneys Office
decided not to file misdemeanor charges or a civil action against the
council for the alleged Brown Act violations.
Both McKee and the city praised the settlement of the lawsuit.
The recent Brown Act violations now admitted by the Fillmore City
Council illustrate how easily elected officials can impede the publics
right to be involved in the decision-making of their local government,