L.A. Adult Film Panel May Have Violated Open Meetings Law
LOS ANGELES — With a Los Angeles ordinance regulating porn shoots now in effect, a working group of governmental officials are crafting rules on how to implement and enforce the new law.
The Adult Film Industry Working Group, which originally was to comprise officials from the LAPD,Cal/OSHA and the city attorney’s office, already has met once — on March 2.
But the meeting was held behind closed doors in possible violation of California's Brown Act, which guarantees the public’s right to attend and participate in meetings of local legislative bodies.
The Brown Act was enacted in response to mounting public concerns over informal, undisclosed meetings — including workshops, retreats and study sessions — held by local elected officials.
Frank Mateljan, a spokesman for the City Attorney's office, confirmed to XBIZ that the public couldnot attend the March 2 meeting and said he could not provide any agendas, transcript and audio or videotapes of it.
But Mateljan, who said that the law currently is not being enforced until City Council decides on final language that will be introduced May 8, said he couldn't state one way or another whether the "working group" violated the Brown Act.
The alleged violation of the Brown Act was first noticed by adult industry attorney Michael Fattorosi.
Fattorosi, who authored the article "The Condoms Are Coming" for the March edition of XBIZ World, said that while researching the new law for the second part of his article he came across the fact that there was no agenda posted for the March 2 meeting on the City Council's website.
"As I conducted my research it became apparent that the City Council did not post the agenda on purpose," Fattorosi told XBIZ. "I then contacted the City Attorney's Office requesting a copy of the agenda and have not been provided me with one. At least with an agenda in hand we would know for certain who has been appointed to the working group as well as what was discussed in that first meeting."
If the "working group" were found to have violated the Brown Act, the district attorney or even a private individual could propose injunctions for the purpose of obtaining a judicial determination and fines against public officers or employees of the agencies.
"Without representation at that meeting the industry will never be given a fair and balanced opportunity to voice their opinions about the rules being promulgated and the enforcement of the law," Fattorosi said. "This is a potentially serious offense by the city and the use of condoms needs to be discussed in an open meeting and not behind the closed doors of a star chamber."
Fattorosi said he already has made a formal written request to the City Council pursuant to California Governmental Code section 54953.5(b) that they turn over any videotape or audio recordings from working group's March 2 meeting.
"If the city refuses to provide the agenda as well as the recordings then litigation to force the city to conduct the meetings in open would be necessary," Fattorosi said.
Since the 1970s, the nation's porn biz has found an accepting home in Los Angeles' San Fernando Valley (known as Porn Valley), which counts more than 100 adult film studios, 800 performers and about 3,000 closely working in the industry.
But the biz has been suddenly shaken by sweeping health regulations that require porn performers to wear condoms while on location, with many contemplating moves to other states, including Arizona, Nevada and Oregon.
Nearly all of the adult film industry's execs have come out against the ordinance.
Vivid Entertainment's Steve Hirsch recently called the ordinance an example of "government overreach, of regulation without knowledge, guided by misinformation and misplaced morality."
"Dealing with how the City of Los Angeles can enforce regulations that are virtually unenforceable will lead to the predictable new committee tasked with solving the unsolvable," he said. "What does the city intend to do, deploy a battalion of 'condom police'?"