Public Meetings

Public Meetings

An important part of the Chartist campaign was to hold large public meetings. These meetings gave great orators such as Fears O'Connor and George Julian Harney the opportunity to persuade people to join the campaign for the six points of the Charter. It was also a way of showing the government the scale of the support that they had for Chartism.

Although not a great orator himself, Thomas Attwood, MP for Birmingham, was able to draw large crowds to his Chartist meetings. In August 1838, Attwood held a meeting at Newhall Hill, Birmingham, that was attended by over 200,000 people.

Throughout 1838 large meetings were held all over Britain. Estimates of how many people attended these meetings varies. The Northern Star claimed that 500,000 people were at the Kersal Moor meeting in Manchester on 24th September, 1838, whereas the report in the Manchester Guardian estimated the crowd to be only 30,000. However, even hostile newspapers in Scotland admitted that over 100,000 people assembled at Glasgow Green on 28th June, 1838, to hear Chartist speakers.

George Julian Harney went on a tour of Northern towns in the summer of 1839. Numbers at these meetings ranged from 10,000 in Carlisle to 100,000 in Newcastle. The Chartist, Ben Wilson, who organised a meeting in Halifax, claimed that over 200,000 people turned up to hear the Chartist speakers. The authorities became concerned when people began taking weapons to these meetings. Government spies were instructed to attend these Chartist gatherings and during 1839 it was reported the distribution of pamphlets headed: "Be ready to nourish the tree of liberty with the Blood of Tyrants'. On 4th June a Chartist meeting in Birmingham ended in a riot and in Newcastle, 6,000 Chartists clashed with the army and special constables. Eyewitnesses claimed that over half of the people who attended the meeting carried weapons.

The size of the crowds that attended Chartist meetings fell after 1839. In the 1840s Feargus O'Connor made valiant attempts to organize large meetings. In April 1848 O'Connor organised a meeting on Kennington Common. O'Connor warned that after the speeches he intended to lead the large crowd to the House of Commons where he would present a petition to the government. The authorities, afraid that the meeting would result in a riot, called up 8,000 soldiers and 150,000 special constables. O'Connor claimed that over 500,000 assembled at Kennington, the government said it was only 15,000. However, the size of the crowd still worried the authorities and after negotiations, O'Connor agreed to the request of the police not to march the crowd to the House of Commons.

Mr. Attwood delivered a speech. He professed himself a peaceful man, and declared that he would never sanction the commission of violence for gaining the people's object, but as he warmed to the subject, he talked about the legislature being unable to resist the demand for two millions of men, which, which, if not speedily complied with, would result in the two millions being increased to five. If petitioning was found to fail in making the necessary impression, the honourable gentleman suggested a national strike for one week, during which time not a hammer was to be wielded, nor an anvil sounded, not a shuttle moved, throughout the country, and he told his hearers that although he would be opposed to the employment of any violence, if the people were attacked the consequences must fall on the heads of the aggressors. He told the meeting too, that if the government dared to arrest him in the execution of his peaceful purpose, a hundred thousand men would march to demand his release.

We demand Universal Suffrage, because we believe the universal suffrage will bring universal happiness. Time was when every Englishman had a musket in his cottage, and along with it hung a flitch of bacon; now there was no flitch of bacon for there was no musket; let the musket be restored and the flitch of bacon would soon follow. You will get nothing from your tyrants but what you can take, and you can take nothing unless you are properly prepared to do so. In the words of a good man, then, I say 'Arm for peace, arm for liberty, arm for justice, arm for the rights of all, and the tyrants will no longer laugh at your petitions'. Remember that.

The metropolis presented on Monday a scene of unusual excitement and alarm. The determination announced by the members of the Chartist National Convention to hold their meeting and procession in defiance of the law and the constituted authorities - the military preparations, almost unparalleled for extent and completeness to put down any insurrectionary attempts.

The weather was exceedingly favourable for the demonstration; no obstruction was offered by the police to the processions which left the Middlesex side of London for Kennington Common; a free thoroughfare was permitted to all who wished to take part in the public meeting; and yet, instead of the 300,000 persons who, we were told would assemble on Kennington Common does not reach 50,000

My children, have now for a quarter of a century been mixed up with the democratic movement - in Ireland since 1822, and in England from the year 1833. I have always, in and out of Parliament, contended for your rights, and I have received more than 100 letters, telling me not to come here today, or my life would be sacrificed. My answer was, that I would rather be stabbed in the heart than abstain from being in my place. And my children, for you are my children, and I am only your father and bailiff; but I am your fond father and your unpaid bailiff.

My breath is nearly gone, and I will only say, when I desert you may desert me. You have by your conduct today more than repaid me for all I have done for you, and I will go on conquering until you have the land and the People's Charter becomes the law of the land.


Public Meetings - History

The ambiguous status of British loggers who settled in Spanish territory hindered the early development of government institutions in the area. Informal meetings to address common security concerns, however, evolved into a rudimentary form of administration, the Public Meeting. Participation in the Public Meetings depended on race, wealth, and length of residency. In 1765 Rear Admiral Sir William Burnaby, commander in chief of Jamaica, compiled the settlement's common law in the Ancient Usages and Customs of the Settlement, or, "Burnaby's Code." Burnaby also recommended to the British government that a superintendent be appointed to oversee the settlement. Opposition from the settlers prevented the office of superintendent from being permanently established until 1796. The changing political, economic, and social climate of Central America and the Caribbean, including the emancipation of slaves throughout the British empire in the 1830s, contributed to a desire to regularize the status of the settlement. As early as 1840, British law displaced Burnaby's Code as the settlement's basic law, and in 1854, a Public Meeting and the British Parliament adopted a new constitution, which created institutions more like those of other British possessions. The Public Meeting thus ceased to operate.


National Council on Public History

We received 30 topic proposals from people looking for feedback or possible co-presenters for next March&rsquos annual meeting in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, in advance of the final proposal deadline of July 15. We&rsquore asking the NCPH community to explore the topic proposals and leave feedback by July 1! Read More

Join the Public History Book Club

The NCPH Professional Development Committee is excited to bring you the Public History Book Club. The first discussion will be held on Thursday, July 8, 2021 at 6 pm Eastern to talk about Mary Rizzo&rsquos Come and Be Shocked: Baltimore Beyond John Waters and the Wire. Read More

Deadline Extended: AASLH 2021 Poster Proposals

NCPH is proud to be sponsoring the poster session at the annual meeting of the American Association for State and Local History (AASLH) in Little Rock, Arkansas, September 22-25. The deadline to submit your poster proposal has been extended to Friday, June 18! Read More


All states had enacted open meetings laws by 1976

In the 1950s, even before Congress enacted the Freedom of Information Act, the American Society of Newspaper Editors had formed the Freedom of Information Committee. It pressured state legislatures to enact &ldquoopen meetings&rdquo laws as part of a general move toward more responsive and responsible government.

By 1976 all of the states and the District of Columbia had passed sunshine laws that created a legal right to (limited) access.

In general, most statutes require public bodies to meet and deliberate in public.

Although these laws guarantee that the public and the media can attend, they do not guarantee the public&rsquos right to speak.


ThursDAY, march 25, 2021 | 8:00 &ndash 9:00 PM Eastern

We may be used to working alone at home offices, but the pandemic brings up unique challenges for consultants and independent museum professionals (IMPs). NCPH&rsquos Consultants Committee and the Independent Museum Professionals, a network of the American Alliance of Museums, have teamed up to lead this Dine and Discuss for consultants and IMPs, those who hire or work with them, and anyone transitioning or thinking of transitioning to consulting. Join us as we identify challenges, raise solutions, ask questions, and get to know each other over a Zoom meal!


ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

The Board of Trustees of the Idaho State Historical Society is the policy-making and governance body for the agency, is appointed by the Governor, and has all of the powers and duties established by the Constitution of the State of Idaho. Trustees provide a statewide perspective that informs agency services and serve as a vital communication link back to communities.

The Idaho State Historical Society Board of Trustees hold quarterly meetings.

ISHS Board of Trustees Meeting

The Board of Trustees of the Idaho State Historical Society is the policy-making and governance body for the agency, is appointed by the Governor, and has all of the powers and duties established by the Constitution of the State of Idaho. Trustees provide a statewide perspective that informs agency services and serve as a vital communication link back to communities.

The Idaho State Historical Society Board of Trustees hold quarterly meetings.

ISHS Board of Trustees Meeting

June 7th & 8th, 2021 Meeting Agenda

Idaho Geographic Names Advisory Council meets biannually to advise the Idaho State Historical Society Board of Trustees on new geographic name proposals, name-change proposals, name corrections, or error corrections, as sent by the U.S. Board on Geographic Names for locations within the State of Idaho.

Idaho Geographic Names Board Meeting

The Idaho Historic Sites Review Board meets biannually, spring and fall, to consider nominations to the National Register of Historic Places. The public is welcome to attend these meetings. For additional information, please contact Dan Everhart, National Register Coordinator at (208) 488-7461.

Idaho Historic Sites Review Board Meeting

GOVERNOR’S LEWIS AND CLARK TRAIL COMMITTEE

For additional information, please contact Dax Chizum, staff representative at (208) 514-2307.

Governor’s Lewis and Clark Trail Committee Meeting

STATE HISTORICAL RECORDS ADVISORY BOARD (SHRAB)

The State Historical Records Advisory Board (SHRAB) is the central advisory body for historical records coordination with each state and for National Historical Publications and Records Commission(NHPRC) state an local records projects within the state.

SHRABs are authorized under federal regulations governing the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (36 CFR Chapter 12). In this capacity, their primary responsibilities are to:


FDA-led Patient-Focused Drug Development (PFDD) Public Meetings

People living with a condition are uniquely positioned to inform the understanding of the therapeutic context for drug development and evaluation. In 2012, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) established the Patient-Focused Drug Development (PFDD) initiative to more systematically obtain the patient perspective on specific diseases and their currently available treatments. PFDD meetings are unique among FDA public meetings, with a format designed to engage patients and elicit their perspectives on two topic areas: (1) the most significant symptoms of their condition and the impact of the condition on daily life and, (2) their current approaches to treatment.

From 2012 to 2017, under the fifth authorization of PDUFA (PDUFA V), FDA conducted 24 disease-specific patient-focused drug development (PFDD) meetings to more systematically obtain the patient perspective on specific diseases and their treatments. PFDD meetings provide key stakeholders, including FDA, patient advocates, researchers, drug developers, healthcare providers, and others, an opportunity to hear the patient’s voice. The lessons learned include but are not limited to specific experiences that matter most to patients, patient perspectives on meaningful treatment benefits and how patients want to be engaged in the drug development process.

FDA recognizes the value of gathering patient input through PFDD meetings and continues to host disease-specific PFDD meetings. More information on FDA-led PFDD meetings. More information on FDA-led PFDD meetings can be found below.

Links to meeting materials, including transcripts, webcast recordings, and presentation slides can be found below. Following each PFDD meeting, FDA summarized the input shared by patients and patient representatives in a Voice of the Patient report. The links to these summary reports can also be found below.

Click Below to Browse Disease Areas for FDA-Led PFDD Meetings

Upcoming FDA-led PFDD Meetings

FDA-led PFDD Meetings

Upcoming FDA-led PFDD Meetings

There are currently no upcoming FDA-led PFDD meetings.

FDA-led PFDD Meetings

Alopecia Areata

On September 11, 2017, FDA conducted a public meeting on Patient-Focused Drug Development for Alopecia Areata. FDA was interested in obtaining patient perspectives on the impact of alopecia areata on daily life and patient views on treatment approaches.

Alpha-1 Antitrypsin

On September 29, 2015, FDA conducted a public meeting on Patient-Focused Drug Development for Alpha-1 Antitrypsin. FDA was interested in obtaining patient perspectives on the impact of Alpha-1 Antitrypsin on daily life and patient views on treatment approaches.

On May 4, 2017, FDA conducted a public meeting on Patient-Focused Drug Development for Autism. FDA was interested in obtaining patient perspectives on the impact of autism on daily life and patient views on treatment approaches.

Breast Cancer

On April 2, 2015, FDA conducted a public meeting on Patient-Focused Drug Development for Breast Cancer. FDA was interested in obtaining patient perspectives on the impact of Breast Cancer on daily life and patient views on treatment approaches.

Chagas Disease

On April 28, 2015, FDA conducted a public meeting on Patient-Focused Drug Development for Chagas Disease. FDA was interested in obtaining patient perspectives on the impact of Chagas Disease on daily life and patient views on treatment approaches.

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome/Myalgic Encephalomyelitis

On April 25, 2013, FDA conducted a public meeting on Patient-Focused Drug Development for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Myalgic Encephalomyelitis. FDA was interested in obtaining patient perspectives on the impact of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Myalgic Encephalomyelitis on daily life and patient views on treatment approaches.

Chronic Pain

On July 9, 2018, FDA conducted a public meeting on Patient-Focused Drug Development for Chronic Pain. FDA was interested in hearing patients’ perspectives on chronic pain, views on treatment approaches, and challenges or barriers to accessing treatments for chronic pain. FDA was particularly interested in hearing from patients who experience chronic pain that is managed with analgesic medications such as opioids, acetaminophen, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), antidepressants other medications and non-pharmacologic interventions or therapies.

Female Sexual Dysfunction

On October 27, 2014, FDA conducted a public meeting on Patient-Focused Drug Development for Female Sexual Dysfunction. FDA was interested in obtaining patient perspectives on the impact of Female Sexual Dysfunction on daily life and patient views on treatment approaches.

Fibromyalgia

On March 26, 2014, FDA conducted a public meeting on Patient-Focused Drug Development for Fibromyalgia. FDA was interested in obtaining patient perspectives on the impact of Fibromyalgia on daily life and patient views on treatment approaches.

Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders

On May 11, 2015, FDA conducted a public meeting on Patient-Focused Drug Development for Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders. FDA was interested in obtaining patient perspectives on the impact of Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders on daily life and patient views on treatment approaches.

Hemophilia A, B, and Other Heritable Bleeding Disorders

On September 22, 2014, FDA conducted a public meeting on Patient-Focused Drug Development for Hemophilia A, B, and Other Heritable Bleeding Disorders. FDA was interested in obtaining patient perspectives on the impact of Hemophilia A, B, and Other Heritable Bleeding Disorders on daily life and patient views on treatment approaches.

Hereditary Angioedema

On September 25, 2017, FDA is conducting a public meeting on Patient-Focused Drug Development for Hereditary Angioedema. FDA is interested in obtaining patient and caregiver perspectives on the on the impact of Hereditary Angioedema on daily life and patient views on treatment approaches.

Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV)

On June 14, 2013, FDA conducted a public meeting on Patient-Focused Drug Development for Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV). FDA was interested in obtaining patient perspectives on the impact of Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) on daily life and patient views on treatment approaches.

Huntington’s disease

On September 22, 2015, FDA conducted a public meeting on Patient-Focused Drug Development for Huntington’s Disease. FDA was interested in obtaining patient perspectives on the impact of Huntington’s Disease on daily life and patient views on treatment approaches.

Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis

On September 26, 2014, FDA conducted a public meeting on Patient-Focused Drug Development for Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis. FDA was interested in obtaining patient perspectives on the impact of Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis on daily life and patient views on treatment approaches.

Inborn Errors of Metabolism

On June 10, 2014, FDA conducted a public meeting on Patient-Focused Drug Development for Inborn Errors of Metabolism. FDA was interested in obtaining patient perspectives on the impact of Inborn Errors of Metabolism on daily life and patient views on treatment approaches.

Lung Cancer

On June 28, 2013, FDA conducted a public meeting on Patient-Focused Drug Development for Lung Cancer. FDA was interested in obtaining patient perspectives on the impact of Lung Cancer on daily life and patient views on treatment approaches.

On September 24, 2013, FDA conducted a public meeting on Patient-Focused Drug Development for Narcolepsy. FDA was interested in obtaining patient perspectives on the impact of Narcolepsy on daily life and patient views on treatment approaches.

Neuropathic Pain Associated with Peripheral Neuropathy

On June 10, 2016, FDA conducted a public meeting on Patient-Focused Drug Development for Neuropathic Pain Associated with Peripheral Neuropathy. FDA is interested in obtaining patient input on the impact of neuropathic pain associated with peripheral neuropathy on daily life and patients’ views on currently available therapies to treat the condition.

Non-tuberculous Mycobacterial Lung Infections

On October 15, 2015, FDA conducted a public meeting on Patient-Focused Drug Development for Non-tuberculous Mycobacterial Lung Infections. FDA was interested in obtaining patient perspectives on the impact of Non-tuberculous Mycobacterial Lung Infections on daily life and patient views on treatment approaches.

Opioid Use Disorder

On April 17, 2018, FDA conducted a public meeting on Patient-Focused Drug Development for Opioid Use Disorder (OUD).In particular, FDA was interested in learning patients’ perspectives on OUD, including the effects on their health and well-being that have the greatest impact on daily life, their experience using prescription medical treatments and other treatments or therapies for OUD, and challenges or barriers to accessing or using medical treatments for OUD.

The audio recording of this meeting is publicly available using the links below. Because of the sensitive nature of the meeting topic, and the importance of gathering candid, meaningful input from individuals who have come forward to speak about living with opioid use disorder, there is no video recording of the meeting.

Parkinson’s Disease

On September 22, 2015, FDA conducted a public meeting on Patient-Focused Drug Development for Parkinson’s Disease. FDA was interested in obtaining patient perspectives on the impact of Parkinson’s Disease on daily life and patient views on treatment approaches.

Patients Who Have Received an Organ Transplant

On September 27, 2016, FDA conducted a public meeting on Patients Who Have Received an Organ Transplant. FDA was interested in obtaining patient input on the impact of receiving an organ transplant on daily life and patients’ views on currently available therapies to manage organ transplantation.

On March 17, 2016, FDA conducted a public meeting on Patient-Focused Drug Development for Psoriasis. FDA was interested in obtaining patient perspectives on the impact of psoriasis on daily life, patient views on treatment approaches, and decision factors taken into account when selecting a treatment. FDA was interested in patient's perspectives for the types of psoriasis with primarily skin symptoms (such as plaque psoriasis, nail psoriasis, guttate psoriasis, etc.).

Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension

On May 13, 2014, FDA conducted a public meeting on Patient-Focused Drug Development for Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension. FDA was interested in obtaining patient perspectives on the impact of Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension on daily life and patient views on treatment approaches.

On April 6, 2017, FDA conducted a public meeting on Patient-Focused Drug Development for Sarcopenia. FDA was interested in obtaining patient perspectives on the on the impact of sarcopenia on daily life and patient views on treatment approaches.

Sickle Cell Disease

On February 7, 2014, FDA conducted a public meeting on Patient-Focused Drug Development for Sickle Cell Disease. FDA was interested in obtaining patient perspectives on the impact of Sickle Cell Disease on daily life and patient views on treatment approaches.

Stimulant Use Disorder

On October 6, 2020, FDA hosted a public meeting on Patient-Focused Drug Development for Stimulant Use Disorder. This meeting provided FDA the opportunity to obtain input from individuals with stimulant use disorder and other stakeholders on the impact of stimulant use disorder and views on treatment goals and approaches. FDA was interested in hearing perspectives from individuals with stimulant use disorder on the health effects and daily impacts of their stimulant use disorder, impact (if any) of opioid and polysubstance use on their stimulant use disorder, treatment goals, and decision factors considered when seeking out or selecting a treatment.

Systemic Sclerosis

On October 13, 2020, FDA hosted a public meeting on Patient-Focused Drug Development for Systemic Sclerosis. FDA was interested in hearing perspectives from individuals with systemic sclerosis on the health effects and daily impacts of their systemic sclerosis, treatment goals, and decision factors considered when seeking out or selecting a treatment.

On March 8, 2021, FDA hosted a public meeting on Patient-Focused Drug Development for Vitiligo. FDA was interested in hearing perspectives from individuals with vitiligo on the health effects and daily impacts of their vitiligo, treatment goals, and decision factors considered when seeking out or selecting a treatment.

To get updates about CDER's Patient-Focused Drug Development programs, subscribe to our free email subscription service using the button at the top of the page.


Scheduled meetings

Advance registration for speakers and observers opens Jul 26, 2021 at 10:30 AM.

To protect the public&rsquos health in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and as permitted by Governor Pritzker&rsquos Disaster Proclamation, the public will have access to the meeting via live stream at cpsboe.org, and Public Participation will be held virtually via an electronic platform.

Advance registration will be open the Monday preceding the Board meeting at 10:30 AM and close Tuesday at 5:00 PM, or until all slots are filled. Advance registration is available for speakers. You can advance register during the registration period by the following methods:

Online: www.cpsboe.org (recommended)
Phone: (312) 989-7313

To ensure equity of access to address the Board, an individual may not speak at two (2) consecutive Board Meetings. In the event an individual registers to speak at a consecutive Board Meeting, the individual will not be called to address the Board.

The Public Participation segment of the meeting will begin following the CEO Remarks and proceed for no more than 30 registered speakers for 60 minutes. Registered speakers will receive instructions for accessing the electronic platform for Public Participation.

Board meeting participation guidelines

The Chicago Board of Education allocates no more than 60 speaking slots for up to two hours of public participation during each Board meeting. These guidelines shall govern the public participation of a Board meeting. Read the participation guidelines »


Open Meetings-Open Records-Transparency Government

These materials were prepared for the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics program in Government Ethics by Senior Fellow Judy Nadler and Communications Director Miriam Schulman. The Center provides training in local government ethics for public officials. For more information, contact Hana Callaghan.

What is the definition of transparency?

Of course, transparency means that something can be seen through. When we talk about transparency in government, we mean that citizens must be able to "see through" its workings, to know exactly what goes on when public officials transact public business. Government that is not transparent is more prone to corruption and undue influence because there is no public oversight of decision making.

What is an open meeting law?

To protect transparency in government, every state in the United States has some variety of law mandating that all government business be conducted in open meetings to which the public has access. These are sometimes referred to as "sunshine laws," open government laws, or, in California, the Brown Act. The Oklahoma Court's decision in Oklahoma Ass'n of Municipal Attorneys v. State (1978) gives a clear statement of why open meetings are important: "If an informed citizenry is to meaningfully participate in government or at least understand why government acts affecting their daily lives are taken, the process of decision making as well as the end results must be conducted in full view of the governed."

In addition, most states have laws ensuring public access to government documents and records. These are often versions of the federal Freedom of Information Act.

What do open meetings have to do with ethics?

Transparency is a way of protecting fairness and ensuring the common good. When citizens know what their government is up to, they have a better chance of ensuring that decisions treat everyone equally and protect the common conditions that are important to everyone's welfare. As the Carter Center puts it:
Democracy depends on a knowledgeable citizenry whose access to a range of information enables them to participate more fully in public life, help determine priorities for public spending, receive equal access to justice, and to hold their public officials accountable. Inadequate public access to information allows corruption to flourish, and back-room deals to determine spending in the interests of the few rather than many.

What ethical dilemmas do open meetings present?

While the principle behind open meetings is straightforward, the application sometimes is not.

Exceptions to Open Meeting Rules:

There are issues, such as real property negotiations and matters pertaining to pending litigation, which can be handled in closed session. Personnel issues are another area, one where privacy concerns may legitimate closed meetings. California's sunshine law, the Brown Act, "provides for closed sessions regarding the appointment, employment, evaluation of performance, discipline or dismissal of a public employee."

The rationale for this exception is protecting public employees from undue publicity or embarrassment, but not every embarrassing or sensitive situation should be handled behind closed doors. In fact, the California Attorney General's Office points out that these very characteristics may indicate the need for public scrutiny. Evidence of corruption in the awarding of city contracts may be very embarrassing to the city council, but it must still be dealt with in an open meeting.

What is a meeting?

Public officials may be unclear about or too loose in their interpretation of what constitutes a meeting. If, for example, a majority of council members go out for lunch together and discuss city business, despite the informal setting, they are having a meeting. The important thing for officials to keep in mind is the principle behind the law: the public's right to know how public decisions are made and to participate in making them.

Barriers to Access:

Open meetings should allow everyone access to the political process. This may mean breaking down the barriers that exclude some citizens, such as:

Technological Barriers:

Sometimes called the "digital divide," our society suffers from disparities in access to technology, usually because of income. One obvious example is that low-income individuals are less likely to own computers that would allow them to access government services that are available on line. Building permit forms, council minutes and agendas, utilities applications are all examples of forms that can often be filled out over the Internet. To reduce the effects of the digital divide on access, governments must support such services as public library access to the Internet and the continuing availability of in-person assistance.

Disabilities:

A disability may impede a person's ability to participate in the political process. For example, a person using a wheelchair cannot even enter City Hall if the only access is a long flight of marble stairs. A deaf citizen cannot follow government debate without assisted hearing devices. The Americans with Disabilities Act requires government entities to remove barriers to the full participation of people with disabilities. As always in regard to ethics, however, the law is the floor and not the ceiling. Government officials have a duty to ensure that people with disabilities are welcomed into the public arena.

Officials should also understand that their accessibility to the public should extend beyond meetings. They need to participate in public life, to attend community events, to make themselves available to the community outside of more formal governmental gatherings. They have the responsibility of taking phone calls from constituents, responding to e-mails, and generally listening to concerns and questions coming from their community.

Open Records:

Public records also must be publicly accessible, though here again there may be exceptions, such as classified information. A key issue facing governments is the proper balance between open records and security. For example, safety reports on nuclear or chemical plants may be public records, but should they be widely available? What information must be protected to keep citizens safe, and what records are classified simply because their publication would reflect badly on those in power?

Additionally, a great deal of information about individuals is available in government records, such as voter registration rolls. Databases make this information widely available, raising privacy concerns.


Access to Meetings

The Ralph M. Brown Act (Government Code sections 54950-54963, referred to as the “Brown Act”) is intended to provide public access to meetings of California local government agencies. Its purpose is described in the Act:

“The people of this State do not yield their sovereignty to the agencies which serve them. The people, in delegating authority, do not give their public servants the right to decide what is good for the people to know and what is not good for them to know. The people insist on remaining informed so that they may retain control over the instruments they have created.” Gov’t Code § 54950.

In order to achieve this objective, governmental bodies subject to the requirements of the Brown Act must provide public notice of their meetings, post agendas of the subjects to be discussed at those meetings, and provide public access to those meetings. Public notice of every meeting subject to the Brown Act is required, and access is mandatory unless the meeting is held in closed session under a specific exception contained in the Act.

However, the Brown Act is complex, and problems often arise in application. The following issues come up consistently:

(1) What kinds of public bodies are subject to the Act?

(2) Has the public body properly given notice of the matters it intends to address in the agenda for the meeting?

(3) What constitutes a “meeting,” and what kinds of communications among members of a legislative body are permitted outside of meetings?

(4) Are the exceptions permitting closed sessions are being properly applied?

In this primer we will walk you through our summary of the Brown Act that aims to explain some of the intricacies of the Act that have led to both litigation and abuse by the agencies it governs and make it more useful to its users.

II. What public bodies are subject to the Act?

Public bodies subject to the Act include:

A . The governing body of a local agency or any other local body created by state or federal law.1. Thus, entities such as city councils, boards of supervisors, school boards, redevelopment agencies, and air pollution control boards are covered. The judiciary is not covered. State agencies and the legislature are covered by separate, similar acts.

B. A commission, committee, board, or other body of a local agency created by charter, ordinance, resolution, or formal action of a legislative body.2.

Advisory committees composed solely of the members of the legislative body that constitute less than a quorum and that have neither a continuing scope of business nor a schedule set by the legislative body are not covered by the Act.

• Standing committees are included if they have schedules fixed by official action irrespective of their composition. For example, a standing committee of a city council, such as a budget committee or a rules committee, would be subject to the Brown Act. However, an ad hoc committee consisting of three out of seven council members appointed to investigate a claim of fraud would not be. (The Brown Act would apply if a citizen or someone else who was not a member of the council was appointed to the committee.)

• In addition, while a standing committee that meets pursuant to a regular schedule is always subject to the Brown Act, even standing committees that meet infrequently or sporadically are subject to the Brown Act if they consist of more than a quorum, or if they have ongoing authority to address issues with the subject matter jurisdiction of parent body.3.

C. A board, commission, committee or other multimember body that governs a private entity that either:

• Is created by that entity to exercise authority on its behalf or

• Receives funds from a local agency and has on its governing board a member of that agency’s legislative body who is appointed by the legislative body.4.

(1) If a city creates a special local assessment district, collects assessments from local property owners, and provides by ordinance that the programs paid for with those funds will be governed by a non-profit association, the non-profit corporation set up to govern those programs will be subject to the Act4 Gov’t Code § 54952(c)(1).5. and

(2) if a private, non-profit corporation receives funds from a city, and the corporation has a council member on its board who has been appointed by the city council, the corporation will be subject to the Act.

D. The governing board of private corporation to which a public hospital district has turned over control of a hospital.6.

E. State agencies are not covered by the Brown Act, but are subject to the Bagley-Keene Open Meetings Act, which is very similar to the Brown Act. The courts and court administrative offices are exempt from state open meeting laws.

3 79 Ops. Cal. Atty. Gen. 69 (1996).

5 This example comes from a case called Epstein v. Hollywood Entertainment District II Business Improvement Dist., 87 Cal. App. 4th 862 (2001). In addition, under a court decision in a case called Frazer v. Dixon Unified School Dist., 18 Cal. App. 4th 781 (1993), a board, committee or commission created by an individual government official, rather than a local governmental agency, also is subject to the Brown Act, if the local agency delegated to the individual official the authority to create the committee or other body.

III. What notice must be given of a public meeting?

A. Advance notice of meetings must be provided:

Regular meetings must be noticed through the posting of an agenda at least 72 hours before the meeting. 7 (You may request that a copy of the agenda and “all documents constituting the agenda packet” be mailed to you. They will be mailed when the agenda is posted or when it is distributed to a majority of the legislative body, whichever is first. The agency may charge a fee for mailing the materials, not to exceed the cost of providing the mailing service.)8

Special meetings may be called, but only upon 24-hour notice to each local newspaper of general circulation, radio or television station that has in writing requested notice. The notice must be posted in a location freely accessible to the public. Only the business specified for discussion at the special meeting may be addressed. 9

Emergency meetings may be called under specific, drastic circumstances (“work stoppage, crippling activity, or other activity that severely impairs public health, safety, or both, as determined by a majority of the members of the legislative body”). The 24-hour notice is not necessary, but a 1-hour notification of those media requesting notice is necessary if possible. 10

B . The agenda must contain a brief description of each item of business to be transacted(generally not to exceed 20 words). 11

Agenda descriptions must not be misleading. According to the California Attorney General’s guide to the Brown Act, “the purpose of the brief general description is to inform interested members of the public about the subject matter under consideration so that they can determine whether to monitor or participate in the meeting of the body.”12 For example, using the agenda item “flood control” to refer to a discussion on a request to Congress to exempt a certain stream from the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act would be clearly inadequate.

Closed session items must be included on the agenda.14

(a) They must be described with enough particularity to protect the confidentiality of the subject to be discussed, but at the same time provide the public with a general idea of the topic being discussed in closed session. (See the discussion below of what must be included for specific exemptions.)

(b) The Act actually spells out the recommended content of closed session agenda notices, and provides a “safe harbor” ensuring that government agencies will not be in violation of the agenda requirements of the Act if they follow the recommended format.

C. No action can be taken on items not on the agenda, except:

• Brief responses to public testimony.

• Requests for clarification from or references of matters to staff.

• Brief reports on personal activities.

• When there is an emergency (see above).

• When two-thirds of the legislative body agree there is a need to take immediate action on a matter about which the body could not have been aware earlier (see above).

12. The Brown Act, Open Meetings For Local Legislative Bodies, Office of the Attorney General, 2003, at

13 See 67 Ops. Cal. Atty. Gen. 84 (1984) (construing Bagley-Keene Act).

14. Gov’t Code §§ 54954.2(a), 54957.7(a).

IV. What is a meeting?

A. A meeting as defined by the Act includes any “congregation by a majority” of a legislative body at the same time and place to “hear, discuss, or deliberate” on any matter within the jurisdiction of the body.

As the Attorney General explains: “This definition makes it clear that the body need not take any action in order for a gathering to be defined as a meeting. A gathering is a meeting if a majority of the members of the body merely receive information or discuss their views on an issue. A meeting also covers a body’s deliberations, including the consideration, analysis or debate of an issue, and any vote which may ultimately be taken.” 16

A meeting does not have to be formally announced, agendized, or convened in order to be subject to the Act. 17

B. Serial meetings , either in person or by telephone or fax or go-betweens, constitute a meeting if done to “develop a collective concurrence as to action.” 18

• For example, a series of individual telephone calls between the attorney for the redevelopment agency and the members of the agency’s governing board was held to constitute a meeting. The agency attorney had individually polled the members of the body to get their approval for a real estate transaction. The court concluded that even though the members never met together, their communications constituted a meeting for the purposes of the Act. 19

• Similarly, when the San Diego City Council directed staff to take certain action in an eminent domain proceeding in a letter signed by a quorum of the council, the court held that it had violated the Brown Act.20

• Addressing e-mail communications, the Attorney General has opined as follows: “This office [has] concluded that a majority of a body would violate the Act if they e-mailed each other regarding current issues under the body’s jurisdiction, even if the e-mails were also sent to the secretary and chairperson of the agency, the e-mails were posted on the agency’s Internet Web site, and a printed version of each e-mail was reported at the next public meeting of the body. The opinion concluded that these safeguards were not sufficient to satisfy either the express wording of the Act or some of its purposes. Specifically, such e-mail communications would not be available to persons who do not have Internet access. Even if a person had Internet access, the deliberations on a particular issue could be completed before an interested person had an opportunity to become involved.”21

• On the other hand, the California Supreme Court has held that a memorandum from a public body’s attorney to the members of the body did not constitute a meeting under the Act.22

• Note that it has been held that the public body need not actually take formal action through the serial meeting in order to have conducted a “meeting” in violation of the Act. One court has concluded that the Act applies equally to the deliberations of a body and its decision to take action. The court reasoned that if a collective commitment were a necessary element, the body could conduct most or all of its deliberation behind closed doors, as long as the body did not actually reach agreement prior to consideration in public session.23

C. Exempted from the definition of a meeting are:

• Individual contacts or conversations.24

• Attendance of a majority of members at a conference open to the public that involves a discussion of general interest to the public or “to the public agencies of the type” attending the conference provided the members do not discuss legislative business among themselves. Fees may be charged to members of the public.25

• Attendance by a majority of the members at an open and publicized meeting called by someone other than the legislative body to discuss topics of community interest.26

• Attendance by a majority of members at an open and publicized meeting of another body of the local agency, provided the members do not discuss among themselves matters within their jurisdiction that is not the subject of the meeting.

• Attendance at a ceremonial or social event by a majority of members provided they do not discuss among themselves matters within their jurisdiction.28

• The attendance of a majority of the members of a legislative body at an open and noticed meeting of a standing committee of that body, provided that the members of the legislative body who are not members of the standing committee attend only as observers.29

D. The meeting must be held within the boundaries of the agency’s jurisdiction, except:30

• When necessary to comply with state or federal law or court order.

• To inspect real or personal property over which the agency has control, provided it is the topic of the meeting is related to the property.

• To participate in multi-agency meetings, provided that the meeting is properly noticed by all the agencies and that the meeting takes place in the jurisdiction of one of the agencies involved.

• To meet with federal or state officials when a local meeting would be impractical, solely to discuss matters of relevance with such officials.

• To meet at the closest meeting facility or the principal office of the body if there exists no meeting facility within the jurisdiction of the body.

• To meet at a facility outside of the jurisdiction if the facility is owned by the body, provided the discussion at the meeting is limited to items directly related to the facility.

• To visit legal counsel to discuss pending litigation when to do so would reduce fees.

• School boards may meet outside of the District on a variety of labor and employment matters.

• Statewide joint powers authorities may meet within the territories of anyone in their organization.

E. Regular meetings must be held at a time, place, and location fixed by official action (e.g., bylaws, ordinance, resolution).31 If it is unsafe to meet at the designated place due to an emergency, the new location must be publicized by a notice to the local media in the most rapid means of communication available at the time.32

• The meeting place must be accessible to all members of the public.33

• No fees may be charged for admission to meetings.

• Registration of one’s name or any other condition of admission is prohibited.34

• Cameras, both still and video, and tape recorders are permitted, and any recording of a meeting subject to the Act made at the direction of the public body is a public record.35

• Public bodies must permit broadcast of their meetings, unless they can demonstrate that doing so would cause a persistent disruption of their proceedings.36

F. Records distributed at a public meeting are public records, unless otherwise exempted under the Public Records Act. 37 The public is entitled to obtain them at the meeting if they were prepared by the public agency, or after the meeting if prepared by someone else. (This does not mean that the agency does not have to provide them prior to the meeting if they are available, only that it must make them available by the time of the meeting at the latest.)38

G. Time must be provided for comment by the public.39

• Public bodies may impose time limitations on public comment.40

• Public bodies may not prohibit criticism of “the policies, procedures, programs, or services of the agency, or of the acts or omissions of the legislative body.”41

• The ability to speak and offer criticism at the meetings of public bodies is also protected by the First Amendment. In particular, the First Amendment has been held to protect the right of citizens to criticize the conduct of particular government officials and employees at public meetings.42

16. The Brown Act, Open Meetings For Local Legislative Bodies, Office of the Attorney General, 2003, at p. 8.

17. In Sacramento Newspaper Guild v. Sacramento County Bd. of Suprs., 263 Cal. App. 2d 41 (1968), the court

held that a luncheon gathering which included five county supervisors, the county counsel, a variety of county

officers, and representatives of a union to discuss a strike which was underway against the county was a

meeting within the meaning of the Act.

19. Stockton Newspapers, Inc. v. Redevelopment Agency, 171 Cal. App. 3d 95, 105 (1985).

20. Common Cause v. Stirling, 119 Cal. App. 3d 658 (1981).

21 The Brown Act, Open Meetings For Local Legislative Bodies, Office of the Attorney General, 2003, at p. 15,

citing 84 Ops. Cal. Atty. Gen. 30 (2001).

22. Roberts v. City of Palmdale, 5 Cal.4th 363, 381 (1993).

23. Frazer v. Dixon Unified School District, 18 Cal. App. 4th 781, 796-798 (1993).

32. See generally Gov’t Code §§ 54956, 54956.5.

33 Gov’t Code §§ 54953(a), 54953.2.

38 .See Gov’t Code § 54957.5(d).

42. Baca v. Moreno Valley Unified School Dist., 936 F. Supp. 719 (C.D. Cal. 1996) Leventhal v. Vista Unified School Dist., 973 F. Supp. 951 (S.D. Cal. 1997).

V. Closed Sessions: When may the public be excluded?

The public may not be excluded from a meeting, except as expressly authorized by the Brown Act.

A public body may exclude the public from meetings, holding what are called “closed sessions” or “executive sessions,” in the following circumstances:

(1) to determine whether an applicant for a license or license renewal, who has a criminal record, is sufficiently rehabilitated to obtain the license 43

(2) to with its negotiator to grant authority regarding the price and terms of payment for the purchase, sale, exchange, or lease of real property 44

(3) to confer with, or receive advice from, its legal counsel regarding pending litigation when discussion in open session concerning those matters would prejudice the position of the local agency in the litigation 45

(4) to meet with the Attorney General, district attorney, agency counsel, sheriff, or chief of police, or their respective deputies, or a security consultant or a security operations manager, on matters posing a threat to the security of public buildings, a threat to the security of essential public services, or a threat to the public’s right of access to public services or public facilities46

(5) to consider the appointment, employment, evaluation of performance, discipline, or dismissal of a public employee or to hear complaints or charges brought against the employee by another person or employee 47

(6) to meet with the local agency’s designated representatives regarding the salaries, salary schedules, or fringe benefits of its represented and unrepresented employees, and, for represented employees, any other matter within the statutorily provided scope of representation.48

There are also a number of other narrow circumstances in which closed sessions may be held.49

However, although there are many provisions permitting closed sessions, certain provisions are more commonly invoked, and hence are more frequently the subject of questions and disputes. Those provisions are discussed below.

A. Meetings with a body’s negotiator prior to the purchase, sale, exchange or lease of real property in order to grant authority to the negotiator regarding the price and terms of payment.50

• The closed session notice should state the address of the property, the identity of the negotiator, and whether the instruction will concern price, payment terms, or both.51

• Prior to the closed session, the public body must hold an open and public session in which it identifies its negotiators, the real property or real properties which the negotiations may concern, and the person or persons with whom its negotiators may negotiate.

• Note: This provision has been the subject of considerable abuse. For example, government agencies involved in enormous, multi-faceted transactions have used a real property portion of the potential transaction to discuss the entire matter in secret. It has also been invoked to cover meetings attended by representatives of the adverse party in the negotiation.

B. Meetings to discuss “pending litigation.”52 This exception has been carefully crafted due to frequent past disputes.

• Litigation is any adjudicatory proceeding.

(a) litigation formally initiated to which the body is a party

(b) a situation where based on the advice of counsel taking into account “existing facts and circumstances” there exists a “significant exposure” to litigation or

(c) when the agency itself has decided or is deciding whether to initiate litigation.53

• For existing litigation, the closed session notice should state the name of the case or parties (unless it would jeopardize service of process or existing settlement negotiations), and for anticipated litigation or litigation the agency is considering initiating, it should state the number of potential cases.

• Prior to holding a closed session pursuant to this section, the legislative body of the local agency must state on the agenda or publicly announce the subdivision of this section that authorizes the closed session. If the session is closed pursuant to subdivision (a), the body must state the title of or otherwise specifically identify the litigation to be discussed, unless the body states that to do so would jeopardize the agency’s ability to effectuate service of process upon one or more unserved parties, or that to do so would jeopardize its ability to conclude existing settlement negotiations to its advantage.55

C . Meetings with law enforcement or security consultants about threats to the security of public buildings, to essential public services, or to the public’s right of access to public services or public facilities56

• The closed session notice should identify the law enforcement agency and state the name and title of the law enforcement official.57

• Note: Expect to see this exception invoked with increasing frequency.

D . Meetings to discuss the appointment, employment, evaluation of performance, discipline or dismissal of a public employee or to hear complaints brought against the employee. 58

1. The closed session notice should state the position to be filled or the title of the employee being reviewed. It need not do so in the case of complaints.

2. Note: An elected official is not a public employee.60

3. Note: The employee may request a public hearing.61

49 See Gov’t Code §§ 54956.86, 54956.87, 54956.95, 54957.8, and 54957.10. Because these provisions have much

more limited application, they are not addressed here

53 Gov’t Code § 54956.9(a), (b), (c).

VI. After a closed session

A. The agency must publicly report action taken in closed session as follows:

1 Approval of an agreement concluding real estate negotiations immediately

if the closed session results in a final agreement, and upon inquiry if the

agreement is finalized thereafter 63

2 Action taken on claims.65

3 Action taken to appoint, employ, dismiss, accept the resignation of, orotherwise affect the employment status of a public employee by title of position.

4 Approval of a labor agreement.67

5 The public is entitled to copies of contracts, settlement agreements, and other documents approved by the public body and subject to any of these reporting requirements. 68

B. Records maintained during a closed session.

1 A local agency may maintain a minute book for actions taken during a closed session, but is not required to do so.69

2 If it does maintain a minute book, or similar documentation, such records are not a public record. 70

3 Absent court order, a local agency is not required to record its closed

VII. Enforcement of the Brown Act

A. A knowing violation of the Brown Act with the intent to deprive the public of information to which it is entitled is a crime. However, no one has ever been successfully prosecuted for a violation of the Brown Act.

B. Individual citizens may bring essentially three types of legal suits to enforce the Brown Act: a suit over a government entity’s alleged violation of the Act based on that entity’s past violation of the Brown Act a suit to contest or enjoin ongoing or future actions in alleged violation of the Brown Act and a suit to void an action taken by a government entity in alleged violation of the Brown Act.

Challenging past actions to stop their recurrence:

Under amendments to the Brown Act adopted in 2012, persons alleging a past violation of the Brown Act, and seeking to bar further violations–but NOT to invalidate a specific government decision or action–must first attempt to resolve the matter, short of litigation, though an elaborate settlement procedure set forth in Government Code section 54960.2, as follows:

1) Within 9 months of the violation, a complainant must file a “cease and desist” letter with the government entity “clearly describing the past action of the legislative body and nature of the alleged violation.” Gov Code sec. 54960.2(1)

2) The legislative body has 60 days to respond with “an unconditional commitment to cease, desist from, and not repeat the past action.” Gov Code sec 54960.2(a)(4). (If it makes such a commitment within 30 days, the government body will immunize itself against any claim, in the course of litigation, for payment of the complainant’s attorney’s fees or costs, Gov Code Sec. 54960.2(b))

3) If the Government body responds with a timely and unconditional commitment, that will be the end of the dispute (unless, subsequently, the agency reneges on its commitment). However, if the government doesn’t respond, or responds unsatisfactorily or conditionally, the complainant may file suit, and must do so within 60 days. Gov Code Sec. 54960.2(a)(4).

Barring an ongoing or future action:

1) “. . . any interested person may commence an action by mandamus, injunction, or declaratory relief for the purpose of stopping or preventing violations or threatened violations of this chapter . . . or to determine the applicability of this chapter to ongoing actions or threatened future actions. . . of the legislative body.” Gov Code Sec 54960(a). Because, practically speaking, lawsuits seeking injunctive relief against future actions usually are based on evidence of past violations, most cases involving prospective relief will be brought under Gov Code section 54960.2, discussed above.

Suits to Void Past Action:

If a complainant’s objective is to have a court declare a government action null and void on account of a Brown Act violation, the procedure spelled out in Gov Code Sec 54960.1 (a) applies. Notice and a demand to “cure and correct” the violation must be given, in writing, within 90 days from the date the action was taken (30 days if the basis for the notice is that the action was not on an agenda or not adequately described). The local agency has 30 days to take action. If the local agency responds and refuses to correct the problem or does nothing, the challenger has 15 days to initiate court proceedings to nullify the action.

The District Attorney or a member of the public may also sue to obtain a ruling that the local agency is violating the free speech rights of a member in seeking to silence that member. In all Brown Act cases brought by citizens, attorneys’ fees may be recovered. They are not mandatory, but they are usually awarded to prevailing plaintiffs.


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