Jackie Lacey

Los Angeles County Dist. Atty. Jackie Lacey appears at a news conference on June 29, 2015. Lacey sent a letter to county supervisors last week saying that their vote on a jail plan had violated the state’s open meetings law. (Mel Melcon)

By Abby Sewell
August 19, 2015

Los Angeles County Dist. Atty. Jackie Lacey notified the Board of Supervisors last week that their vote on a controversial downtown jail plan violated the state’s open meetings law, the latest in a string of incidents in which the board has run afoul of the Ralph M. Brown Act.

In a letter sent last Thursday and released to The Times on Wednesday, Lacey told the board that its Aug. 11 vote on the jail plan did not comply with the Brown Act, which requires that officials give the public adequate notice when they plan to discuss an issue so that anyone can participate.

The board voted last week to move forward with the design and construction of a new 3,885-bed jail to replace the dilapidated Men’s Central Jail.

But the jail plan did not appear on the publicly posted agenda before the meeting. Instead, the supervisors added the vote to an item on the agenda involving a new multimillion-dollar program to divert mentally ill criminal defendants from county jails.

Lacey headed up a task force focused on the diversion issue. The Brown Act letter, written by Assistant Head Deputy Sean Hassett, advised board members that the item that appeared on the agenda “involved implementing a comprehensive jail diversion plan, and made no mention of the jail construction projects, thus violating the public’s right to be notified.”

The letter asked the board to “cure and correct this violation at its earliest convenience by setting the matter on an agenda for proper reconsideration and discussion.”
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