Monday, November 20, 2006

Holbrook v. City of Santa Monica (Cal. Ct. App. - Nov. 20, 2006)

Not every bad -- or even horrible -- decision is also an illegal or unconstitutional one.

I happen to agree with Santa Monica City Councilmen Robert Holbrook and Herb Katz that City Council meetings should end by, say, 11:00 p.m., and that putting the public comment period at the end of these extraordinarily long meetings -- in order to force the public to sit through the whole thing -- is unwise. In general, meetings -- including governmental meetings -- shouldn't end around midnight. It's not conducive to public participation. It's a bad idea.

That said, I also agree with Justice Zelon that poor meeting schedules are neither unconstitutional nor violate the Brown Act (or, for that matter, OSHA regulations). And, quite frankly, it's fairly frivolous to argue to the contrary. Finally, I'd strongly hope that our elected representatives would understand that fact. Something that Mssrs. Holbrook and Katz apparently did not.

Santa Monica. A crazy place. Backed up by some crazy laws and some crazy elected officials. I gotta admit that I love 'em, and appreciate the sentiment. But please realize that the law doesn't solve all your problems. Sometimes you gotta simply be content with an attempt at persuasion, and, if that doesn't work, chalk it up to the (more-than-occasional) problems with representative democracy. It's a crappy system, to be sure. It's simply better than the available alternatives.