Oct 16, 2008

The thin blue line of transparency

Way back when I wrote for newspapers, I reported on a narcotics task force formed by a group of L.A. County police chiefs called LA Impact. The police chiefs met in private to set policy for and distribute funds from task force investigations. Government watchdogs Richard McKee and Chris Bray said the police chiefs - who had expressed an interest in branching out from narcotics to domestic terrorism - had to meet in public. McKee and Bray took the cops to court and the court said the cops were breaking the law.

Flip the calendar forward a few years and Bray, who now teaches history at UCLA, got an itch to see if the police chiefs were still following the law. He sent the LA Impact governing board a letter requesting minutes from past meetings and notification of future meetings (which appear to be being held at the Greater Los Angeles County Vector Control District building in Santa Fe Springs). Such requests are routinely made of California's city councils and school boards and most comply. LA Impact's lawyers did their best to do the bare minimum.

Bray responds:
Thanks for your prompt reply to my request. I had hoped that LA Impact minutes and agendas were created and stored as Word files, or something similar, and could be emailed as attachments with very little cost or hassle to your client. But I would be happy to spend time in the LA Impact office instead, even if it is a substantial time commitment for us all. If I'll be required to travel to the office to read minutes every time there's a meeting of the Board of Directors, perhaps we can come up with a regular appointment time for those frequent visits. In the meantime, I'd like to schedule any morning next week after nine a.m. to review the requested minutes. I plan to read them carefully and methodically, so I may need to visit the LA Impact office quite a few times in the coming days.
Read all the letters the here.


pasadenapio said...

Chris Bray? Our former Pasadena Weekly reporter? That Chris Bray?

Gary Scott said...

Yes, That One.