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Attorney: Coliseum commissioners did not violate open meeting law with USC deal

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Attorneys for the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum deny that commissioners violated the state’s open meeting law when they approved a lease with USC in May, according to a letter sent today to the Los Angeles Times and Californians Aware.   

Both The Times and CalAware had accused commissioners of inappropriately meeting and deliberating behind closed doors prior to the May 14 vote to give USC control over the daily operations of the publicly-owned stadium. The two asked for the release of documents, emails and recordings related to the negotiations. An attorney for The Times also asked that the vote be rescinded and redone in a properly noticed public hearing.

However, a lawyer from the Coliseum Commission denied that the deal was completed in secret. The closed sessions were appropriate under the state’s open meeting law because they dealt with the lease of real property, according to the commission’s attorney.  Further, Coliseum officials maintain that no action was taken behind closed doors.

“Assertions by the LA Times notwithstanding, the Commission has always intended this process of considering to amend and restate the USC lease to be transparent and public. The Commission's actions demonstrate this intention,” attorney Thomas J. Faughnan wrote in his letter. 

There was no immediate response from CalAware's attorney. A lawyer for the Los Angeles Times said she had not yet seen the Colseium Commission's response and could not comment on the letter. At the time the complaints were filed, representatives with CalAware said they were ready to file a lawsuit under the Ralph M. Brown Act to nullify the deal with USC.

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