Pension spiking case leads to open-meeting law violation by LA Supes

The Los Angeles District Attorney’s office has ruled that county supervisors violated the state’s open-meeting law earlier this year when they discussed compensation negotiations behind closed doors without properly notifying the public.

“The D.A. investigation followed a July meeting where Supervisor Gloria Molina said she thought it was inappropriate that the board had discussed in closed session an increase of taxpayer contributions to a top art official’s compensation package,” the LA Times reported.

Board members eventually upped the county's contribution toward the $190,000-a-year salary of Laura Zucker, executive director of the Los Angeles County Arts Commission. Her agency, a quasi-independent entity, operates the John Anson Ford Amphitheatre and oversees millions of dollars in arts grants.

The board voted to boost the county's contribution to Zucker's  pay by $37,000 over the next three years. That would replace a portion of the 63-year-old Zucker's compensation that is now funded by a private nonprofit group associated with the Ford theater.

Deputy D.A. Bjorn Dodd sent what amounted to a stern letter to the board informing members of his finding. He told them he expected his letter “would prompt them to be more careful when preparing agendas and said he didn’t plan to take any further action on the issue,” the Times reported.

County counsel Mark Saladino said he agreed with the D.A.’s finding, adding that the county had included the discussions on the agendas for several closed session meetings but had done so incorrectly. They were listed as department head performance evaluations, he said, instead of as a labor negotiation.


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