Friday, November 18, 2011

Do you know if holding the UC Regents Meeting by phone violates public meeting laws?

this is a question that has come in from a few folks.
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Our take on it:
According to the UC Regents page on the rescheduled meeting:

1-there is going to be time for public comment in four public meeting spaces (they have extended public comment to 1 hour),

2-they have posted the agenda and location, given public notice.

3-Historically, they have held teleconferenced committee meetings regularly and regent meetings have been teleconferenced in emergency cases (e.g. swine flu- some might say now they are doing it because of the pigs at the trough epidemic)- anyway, they have done it before--(even if sometimes it was from the Savoy in London and the Costa Del Sol,Spain and other exotic locales etc.)

so they are making the gestures and appearances of trying to be in compliance with public meeting laws.

But, the fact that they canceled a scheduled meeting and refuse to provide real tangible info/proof of the reason/s why might be cause for a FOIA or other request to find out more detail about the reasons for the sudden cancellation.

And, the Chair of the Regents (Lansing) is likely going to have to explain why the cancellation was not put to a full regent vote - and detail where the prerogative of the three (Lansing, Yudof, Varner) to cancel comes from or cite where it is written in the charter.

First Amendment Coalition also has written this recent post and they also have a Q and A section so they may be able to answer if enough folks ask them about this particular question on this issue.

and

Cal Aware also may be able to point to recent cases.

we recall other old events like Gov Wilson engaging in phone calls with the UC Regents that involved a battle with the Daily Nexus

but this is not a private or one-on-one phone call the UC Regents will be engaging - it is a teleconference type of meeting.

Experts: if you happen to know or want to opine feel free to leave a comment. Tx.
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This is part of the problem of UC autonomy- and many questions are being raised nationwide about the blurry lines of public higher ed autonomy- especially when the shit hits the fan. now we need leg. and policy answers to unblur these lines-- so that they are all held to the same level of accountability and transparency like other public institutions.

-what we really need-a ballot initiative to allow voters to change the appointment process and terms of the UC Regents--
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Bobby Brown-My Prerogative

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