COSTA MESA — Advocates for government transparency have asserted that some of the city's advisory panels violated the state's open meetings law.
The small committees, called "working groups," are supposed to make their recommendations in public council sessions without discussing their findings with council members beforehand. The directives are found in California's open meetings law, the Brown Act.
"The working groups are plainly standing committees, having been given, by title and staff description, as presented for approval, distinct and continuing areas of subject matter jurisdiction," according to a letter Californians Aware attorney Terry Francke sent to the City Council. "Calling such bodies 'working groups' or 'ad hoc' collectives — neither of which expressions appears in the Brown Act — results in no distinction that would dispense with application of that statute."