Costa Mesa Brown Act Allegations ‘Under Consideration’

The Costa Mesa city attorney is now taking “under consideration” allegations that city leaders violated the state open-meetings law known as the Ralph M. Brown Act, according to a short letter received last week by the local resident who asked for an investigation.

The concerns center around a city charter hearing last month, where Mayor Pro Tem Jim Righeimer allowed a lobbying director for the construction industry to give a 10-minute presentation on the contentious prevailing-wage issue without noting it on the meeting agenda. Open-government expert Terry Francke has said city leaders might have at least violated the spirit, if not the letter, of both the Brown Act and the First Amendment.

On March 2, Costa Mesa resident Bill King asked City Attorney Tom Duarte for an investigation. “The Brown Act was enacted to ensure transparency in government. What happened in Costa Mesa that evening was anything but transparent,” King wrote.

On March 20, nearly three weeks after his request and following queries by Voice of OC on the issue, King received a response.

“We have taken the concerns you describe in your letter of a potential Brown Act violation at the February 13, 2012 city council hearing under consideration,” wrote Costa Mesa City Attorney Tom Duarte.

Durate didn’t return a phone message seeking comment on the issue, and city spokesman Bill Lobdell said he didn’t have any further information.