Coliseum Commission administrator found guilty of violating open-meeting laws

Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum Commission top administrator John Sandbrook was found guilty of testifying falsely during USC’s lease negotiations with the Coliseum on Oct. 4, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Luis A. Lavin ruled that Sandbrook falsely stated under oath his reasons for why the lease negotiations between the commission and the university could be kept secret, which both contradicted Sandbrook’s prepared agenda and violated the Ralph M. Brown Act, California’s open-meeting law guaranteeing that actions and deliberations of public commissions, boards and councils be conducted openly.

“In light of the Commission’s refusal to admit any wrongdoing, its aversion to transparency… and Sandbrook’s false testimony that certain closed session agenda items noted as anticipated litigation related to the negotiations with USC over the amendment of the lease,” Lavin wrote in his decision, “the Court finds that the Commission will continue its unlawful practices.”

Lavin issued an injunction barring the panel from discussing a range of topics behind closed doors and requiring it to record its meetings for three years.

The ruling was made in light of a lawsuit against the commission by the Times and Californians Aware, a nonprofit 1st Amendment organization. The suit alleged that the agency repeatedly violated the Brown Act while conducting meetings behind closed doors to grant USC control of the Coliseum.

Lavin’s ruling also ordered the commission to release communications between Sandbrook and USC during the lease negotiations that it had initially refused to produce to the Times.

“Certainly the public has a legitimate and substantial interest in scrutinizing the process leading to the commission’s deal with USC for the use and management of the iconic Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum and the Los Angeles Sports Arena,” Lavin wrote.


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