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City Council and the Ralph Brown Act

February 12, 2020 meeting of the Elk Grove City Council

Here is a video of my comments to the city council last night.

They do not understand our open meetings law, called the Ralph M. Brown Act.

I will continue to try and teach them about it.

According to the California Attorney General’s Office guide to the Brown Act, 2003 the City Council has the power to direct staff to answer questions from residents on an item NOT on the agenda. The AG refers to this as “an issue which has not yet come before the legislative body.”

Where a member of the public raises an issue which has not yet come before the
legislative body, the item may be briefly discussed but no action may be taken at that
meeting. (§ 54954.3(a).) The purpose of the discussion is to permit a member of the
public to raise an issue or problem with the legislative body or to permit the legislative
body to provide information to the public, provide direction to its staff
, or schedule the
matter for a future meeting. (§ 54954.2(a).)
(emphasis added)

(page 19)

The California Government Code says:
(3) No action or discussion shall be undertaken on any item not appearing on the posted agenda, except that members of a legislative body or its staff may briefly respond to statements made or questions posed by persons exercising their public testimony rights under Section 54954.3. In addition, on their own initiative or in response to questions posed by the public, a member of a legislative body or its staff may ask a question for clarification, make a brief announcement, or make a brief report on his or her own activities. Furthermore, a member of a legislative body, or the body itself, subject to rules or procedures of the legislative body, may provide a reference to staff or other resources for factual information, request staff to report back to the body at a subsequent meeting concerning any matter, or take action to direct staff to place a matter of business on a future agenda.