L.A. Park Meetings Forced Open

Random Lengths Publisher James Allen Challenges Secret Meetings.

The Los Angeles Park Advisory Boards [PABs] meetings have been forced open, and journalists in the City of Angels have Random Lengths Publisher James P. Allen to thank.

Acting on a tip, Allen attended an unpublicized PAB meeting in January. When he arrived, he found himself amidst a small throng of city officials and private citizens who had been invited to the meeting. It didn’t take long for Allen to discover he was an unwelcome guest.

“[Angels Gate Park Director Phil] Orland told me the meeting wasn’t open to the public,” says Allen. “He said I needed an invitation.”

After threatening a recalcitrant Allen with forcible removal and arrest, Orland backed down and permitted the publisher to stay.

This wasn’t the first time a PAB had held an invitation-only meeting. According to Allen, the PABs had been regularly flouting the state’s open meetings law.

Following the meeting, Allen called both the city attorney and the county district attorney to challenge the PABs’ secretive meeting protocol.

On March 11, in an opinion delivered to the head of the Board of Recreation & Parks Commissioners, LA Assistant City Attorney Mark Brown declared that the PABs must comply with the open meetings law.

“This was a victory because the newspaper stood up and fought for the basic tenet of keeping the public’s business public,” says Allen.