Closed Door City Council Session Called Off After KBUU Calls Out Open Meetings Act Violation

Written by on June 3, 2021

The Malibu City Council was planning to meet today at 10 … to interview firms to recruit a new city manager.
The meeting was cancelled at 9.
A Malibu radio station raised objections … over what looked like an obvious violation of the state Open Meetings Act.
The one and only item on the agenda … employment of the city manager.
State law allows city councils to meet in secret to talk about the employment status of a person.
But one city councilman said on social media that the meeting was actually to interview potential consultants …. headhunters to find a new city manager.
Discussing city policy with a potential consultant is not an employee matter … and cannot be done in secret … contends KBUU Radio.
Interviewing consultants to hire a chief executive for the city is a matter of setting city policy … something that should be done in an open public meeting … according to the journalist.
City attorney John Cotti told KBUU at 9 am that city council members could not talk to the consultants freely .. about why the city has an opening … without violating a secrecy agreement made with former city manager Reva Feldman.
But KBUU answered that the confidentiality agreement with the departed city manager does not give the city council carte blanche to violate a very clear state law: … public business belongs at public meetings … with very limited exemptions.
After brief city discussions … the meeting was called off … the topic will apparently be discussed at a future session.
Perhaps in public.
KBUU has in the past raised open meetings violations complaints with Malibu city council, the Santa Monica-Malibu school board, the Las Virgenes Council of Governments, and other state agencies.
Results have been mixed, to be frank, but the radio station journalist has told public officials in those cases that keeping meetings open is part of the job of a reporter.
As for the city manager job, Steve McClary is in the running for that city permanent job.
McClary has been interim city manager since Feldman was ousted at the end of April. 

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