READER’S EDITORIAL: BROWN ACT REQUIREMENTS AND TIME LIMITS ON SPEAKING

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An open letter to the Grossmont Union High School District Board regarding its ban on any public citizen speaking over 3 minutes total for all agenda items combined

By Nick Marinovich, former member, Citizens Bond Oversight Committee for the Grossmont Union High School District

February 20, 2016 (San Diego’s East County) -- As a Citizen who actively participates in the governance process, I have indicated at several board meetings my frustration with not being able to adequately make my points when there is a three minute total time any one Citizen can speak at a regular board meeting. Government Code Section 54954.3 states:

(a) Every agenda for regular meetings shall provide an opportunity for members of the public to directly address the legislative body on any item of interest to the public, before or during the legislative body’s consideration of the item, that is within the subject matter jurisdiction of the legislative body, provided that no action shall be taken on any item not appearing on the agenda unless the action is otherwise authorized by subdivision (b) of Section 54954.2.

 (b) The legislative body of a local agency may adopt reasonable regulations to ensure that the intent of subdivision (a) is carried out, including, but not limited to, regulations limiting the total amount of time allocated for public testimony on particular issues and for each individual speaker.

 (c) The legislative body of a local agency shall not prohibit public criticism of the policies, procedures, programs, or services of the agency, or of the acts or omissions of the legislative body. Nothing in this subdivision shall confer any privilege or protection for expression beyond that otherwise provided by law.

This upcoming agenda illustrates my point. I wish to speak under non-agenda public comment regarding the need for campaign limit donations related to the Bond Program and possible violation of the law on the way the Bond Feasibility Report was conducted in light of the recent Attorney General Opinion.  

I also wish to speak on: N-1 (Trustee Boundaries), N-3 ($620,000 in additional legal fees for the Alpine law suit including “Public Relations” Costs), N-4 (Reappointment of Mark Zacovic to Bond Committee), and P-2 (Performance Audit). These individually could take up three minutes and not cover my points.

In summary, it is my contention that your regulations on Public Speaking are not reasonable and has the effect of prohibiting public criticism.

 

The opinions in this editorial reflect the views of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of East County Magazine. To submit an editorial for consideration, contact editor@eastcountymagazine.org


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