The recent appointment of Darrell Johnson as head of the Orange County Transportation Authority violated the state’s open meeting law, requiring a revote on the already controversial decision, The Orange County Register reported Monday.

A board of directors subcommittee approved Johnson’s appointment, but the Ralph M. Brown Act forbids holding special meetings to consider compensation of public agency executives, according to the Register.

The appointment now is uncertain, because many of the board members who voted in favor of Johnson will be stepping down from the board.

From the Register story:

Joel Zlotnik, an OCTA spokesman, confirmed Monday that “our counsel believes we were in violation of the Brown Act. … The plan is to ask the board to take up the issue at its meeting on Dec. 10.”

Johnson, OCTA’s deputy CEO, was chosen Nov. 26 by the agency’s board to succeed CEO Will Kempton, who plans to step down early next year. The vote to appoint Johnson was 11 to 3 with two abstentions.

Those objecting or abstaining on the appointment of Johnson to the $255,000 position said they had been kept out of deliberations about the appointment and pointed out that the full board had never discussed or negotiated Johnson’s contract.

A small committee of board members — most of whose terms are about to expire — selected Johnson for the job without launching an outside search and then sent his appointment to the full board for a final vote.


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