[L.A. County CAO] – The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors has reached a settlement agreement with the group Californians Aware in a lawsuit alleging the Board violated the Ralph M. Brown Act in a series of closed session meetings in September 2011, discussing AB 109 [prison realignment – ed.] with officials from the State of California.
The Board of Supervisors earnestly believed that inadequate actions by the State, in both describing the AB 109 population and in providing funding to the County of Los Angeles for that population, constituted a potential threat to the County’s ability to continue to provide public services, posing a threat to the public safety of the general population. Based on these concerns and the need to exchange specific and sensitive information with State officials, the Board believed, and was so advised by County Counsel, that it had a legitimate basis for meeting in closed session pursuant to Government Code section 54957(a).
The Board acknowledges and accepts Californians Aware’s assertion and the District Attorney’s finding that section 54957 was not an appropriate basis for discussing the implementation of AB 109 in closed session or for including the Governor in the nonpublic discussions. The Board is fully committed to transparency and openness, and with complying with both the spirit and the letter of the Brown Act.
Los Angeles County will pay the legal fees and costs for Californians Aware, totaling $14,750.70. Additionally, the County will include a statement regarding the series of meetings in September 2011 within the official Statement of Proceedings for the Board of Supervisors.
The Board agrees to restrict its future use of closed sessions accordingly and will be releasing transcripts of the closed session meetings of Sept. 20, 21, and 26, 2011.