Neighborhood Council’s Homeless/RV Committee Holds Secret Meetings

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By Mark Lipman

At the last meeting of the Venice Neighborhood Council’s Homelessness/RV committee on November 6, a sub-committee was formed specifically tasked with looking for ways to evict poorer residents from our community. 

On this sub-committee are Susan Beckman, Stuart Oscars, Carolyn Rios and Mark Ryavec, committee co-chair.

Not even two months ago, VNC president, Mike Newhouse attending a committee meeting, carefully explained for 20 minutes the rules under which they were operating. The Brown Act, which quite simply sets strict guidelines on the behavior of all those conducting the public’s business in a political manner and requires public notice and access to all official meetings.

Newhouse patiently answered all of the committee’s questions and made it completely understood, with everyone shaking their heads in the affirmative, that the greatest number that they could privately meet in to discuss policy was half a quorum.

A quorum is half of the whole plus one, which in this case, being 12 in the body, the quorum would be 7 and therefore half of that is 3.5, which is rounded down to 3, as exactly explained by Mike Newhouse, VNC president.

This new sub-committee of 4 is more than 3 and the Beachhead discovered at the last VNC board meeting on November 17 that as of that time, this sub-committee has met twice in secret at the house of co-chair, Mark Ryavec, with meetings closed to the public. This is an unmistakable violation of the Brown Act.

Moreover, the two board officers, Stuart Oscars and Carolyn Rios have no excuse for this violation, having served on the VNC board of officers, they are required to know about and abide by the Brown Act. 

Additionally, co-chair Mark Ryavec has no justification for this misstep, as he was instrumental in taking down the last Homelessness Task Force, chaired by Steve Clare, precisely for claims of Brown Act violations, as confirmed through numerous sources. 

What is to happen to this committee is still uncertain. Yet, with the weight of this violation, the committee should at a minimum be dissolved and those who took part in this back room dealing be disciplined, with a minimum of excluding them from further participation regarding policy making for homelessness and RV issues.

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