WIB Subcommittee Violates Open Meeting Laws

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A subcommittee of the Oakland Workforce Investment Board (WIB) Youth Council, called the West Oakland Working Group, met on Feb. 4, and the meeting was ruled by staff to be private. Several nonmembers from the community were told they could not attend.

The subcommittee, set up by the Youth Council, was charged with looking at causes and solutions to the WIB’s long-term failure to fund jobs and training for youth in West Oakland.

At a 2013 City Council meeting where the WIB was being discussed, councilmembers instructed staff that meetings of the WIB, especially those that deal with budget or funding issues, should be open to the public, including working committees that are called “ad hoc.”

Under state open meeting law, city meetings are generally public unless they deal with issues such as personnel, labor negotiations or privileged discussions with the city attorney. The WIB and its Youth Council are made up of business, agency and community representatives appointed by the mayor.

John Bailey, executive director of the WIB, responded: “The City Attorney’s Office recently brought to staff’s attention the need to notice working group meetings such as the one formed by the Workforce Investment Board Youth Council in accordance with the Brown Act,” he wrote in an email to the Post.

“Ad hoc groups composed entirely of members of the creating body (in this case the Youth Council) are exempt from open meetings except when the group includes outside community members,” Bailey said.

“Staff fully intends to comply and publically notice, and make open to the public the next meeting. While there were no recommendations made during the February 4th meeting, the group will reopen discussions on matters discussed at the prior meeting,” he said.

Alex Katz, spokesman for the City Attorney’s Office, said, “These types of subcommittees are subject to the Brown Act and open to the public.”

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