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The Fresno Housing Authority Votes to Comply with the Brown Act
What do they have to hide?
On Wednesday, March 19 the Fresno Housing Authority (FHA) board of directors voted on a by-law change, bringing them into compliance with the Brown Act. The board voted that the public has the right to attend and record their meetings - a key element of the Brown Act. This became necessary following the January 22 meeting where Community Alliance reporter Simone Whalen-Rhodes was told she could not video the FHA board meeting. This interference of the Community Alliance’s right to record a public meeting was a direct violation of the Brown Act. The purpose of the Brown Act is to shine a light on public agencies, so citizens know what is going on with their government.
You can read the Community Alliance article (in the March newspaper) What Do They Have To hide? here: http://fresnoalliance.com/wordpress/?p=9081 . Following the publication of this article Novella Coleman, an attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union, wrote a letter to the FHA calling on them to change their policies and comply with the Brown Act.
At the March 19 FHA meeting a new attorney was introduced who is now representing the agency. He explained why it was necessary to comply with the Brown Act (I believe the previous attorney had advised the agency that it was OK to prevent the Community Alliance from recording their meetings). Before the by-law change was passed several FHA board members expressed concerns about allowing people to record their meetings. The new attorney patiently explained why they could not demand an ID and they had to have a valid reason for saying the recording was being disruptive. Ultimately, there was a unanimous vote to approve the by-law change. You can see the FHA board discussion on this agenda item here:
Mike Rhodes is the former editor of the Community Alliance newspaper in Fresno. Contact him at mikerhodes [at] comcast.net.