By Michael Goldstein
By Dennis Romero
By Sarah Fenske
By Matthew Mullins
By Patrick Range McDonald
By LA Weekly
By Dennis Romero
By Simone Wilson
But a motion by Molina and fellow Supervisor Don Knabe referred the proposal to ”outside counsel.“ This, unfortunately, consists of the law firm of Brown, Winfield -- which, in my recollection, often represents cities accused of Brown Act violations. Supervisor Molina‘s reasoning was that Brown, Winfield would be a fairer pick than County Counsel Lloyd Pellman, who’s being scapegoated for the December 18 meeting fiasco and is hence officially excluded from this dialogue. According to spokeswoman Karen Ocamb, the Sunshine Coalition wanted its proposal looked at by a less conflicted outside attorney, one without previous contractual ties to the county, especially if that firm was known for fighting on the non-access side of the access issue. But the coalition couldn‘t manage to persuade the board.
This Sunshine Act would certainly help. It might help even more if the press corps -- including me -- did better at covering county politics. The Times’ Evelyn Larrubia deserves credit for exposing the December malefactions -- but she was aided, in that one instance, by a county officialdom that, while officially denying her crucial meeting documentation, efficiently and accidentally sent it along anyway. Otherwise, there are far too many empty press offices in the Hall of Administration. And despite all that yapping about the county‘s withholding documents, you’d never guess this was a problem while strolling through the Hall of Administration press room -- where last week I saw a 3-foot-tall stack of bundled and unread press copies of county paperwork, some of it nearly a year old, covering a 20-square-foot tabletop.
Nonetheless, last week‘s events represented a big victory over Forrest Gump government. That’s the one in which you never know what you‘ll get next, because you never know what’s going on. And, of course, you don‘t really care, do you? Well, why should we? We Angelenos, we’re all governmental Gumps. That‘s why so few of us vote, right?
But that wasn’t what you saw last week. You saw what philosopher John Rawls calls ”a well-ordered society.“ Which is the opposite of docile or regimented: ”It means a society whose members -- all of them, individual men and women of every creed, class and background -- are prepared to raise awkward questions about how things are organized.“ These people filled the boardroom.
”The board reforms were so long overdue,“ commented Erwin Chemerinsky, the constitutional expert over at USC who helped build our new city charter. Chemerinsky also allowed that he hadn‘t realized ”just how bad things had become in the county.“ So he quoted an even greater expert on the Constitution than he -- James Madison -- who said: ”A popular government, without popular information, or a means for acquiring it, is but a prologue to a farce or a tragedy or perhaps both. Knowledge will forever govern ignorance. People who wish to be their own government must arm themselves with the power that knowledge can give.“
Now, if the supervisors follow through on their pledges and resolutions, we are being granted the armament of knowledge of our largest local government. It’s up to us all, in and outside the media, to make the most of this knowledge, as it has always been.
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