In 2020 I learned that the office of the Los Angeles Chief Legislative Analyst prepares briefing notes in advance of Council Committee meetings and distributes them to all the members. Of course I immediately requested copies of all of them. After more than three months of nonresponsiveness CLA executive officer Karen Kalfayan told me that (A) my request was burdensome as there were too many records involved but that that didn’t matter because (B) all the records were exempt on the (fairly bogus) deliberative process theory.
My god, though, imagine what’s in these briefing notes! You know our corrupt and foolish CMs don’t do any research before those committee meetings. Half the time they don’t even seem to know what’s going on. Somebody has to talk some sense to them so they can drop a few marginally salient comments from time to time during the meeting, and maybe these notes are where the sense-talking happens. Or maybe they’re just a bunch of boring blather, but either way, clearly we need to see them.
And it’s the Brown Act to the rescue! Section 54957.5 states as clearly as one could wish that:
… agendas of public meetings and any other writings, when distributed to all, or a majority of all, of the members of a legislative body of a local agency by any person in connection with a matter subject to discussion or consideration at an open meeting of the body, are disclosable public records under the California Public Records Act … and shall be made available upon request without delay.
So if the notes were distributed to a majority of the members of a Council committee, which counts as a “legislative body of a local agency” under the law, then no exemption claims survive. This is the theory of the suit, and you can read it and the evidence here. Our lawyer, Carlo Brooks, combed through the committee membership lists and the email evidence we discovered in order to argue irrefutably that this did happen. I expect the City of LA to settle this one quickly, although it’s not possible to be sure. Stay tuned!