Apparently this is a common practice, and Newsom argues that it lacks transparency. Lobbyists get to say tell the board what they really think -- or tell them what to do -- without the public being any the wiser.
There are a few options: banning texting entirely, just banning it between board members and lobbyists, and banning the use of laptops -- which, after all, could be used to send IMs or update Facebook or whatever.
San Jose passed something similar last week, requiring public disclosure of texts or emails sent during meetings.
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Of course, in L.A. the council members could just step into a back room and talk face-to-face.