The Rancho Palos Verdes City Council on Tuesday night, July 31, is expected to consider whether to subpoena two private citizens who may have received confidential information leaked from closed city council sessions.
The city attorney and council have declined to publicly disclose what they say was leaked.
The five-member council is scheduled to vote on whether to authorize that the two people, Sharon Loveys and Noel Weiss, be subpoenaed to compel them to testify regarding the leaks.
Loveys and Weiss are two area residents who are accused of having received sensitive information from at least one closed session attendee, but city officials would not comment on what exactly the information is or whom is believed to have leaked the information.
If approved, the subpoenas would be the first ones issued as part of an investigation that began in early May, when the council tasked an ad hoc committee with overseeing an investigation into the matter.
As part of the investigation, the city attorney’s office sent written requests to several people seeking in-person interviews to determine the extent of their knowledge, if any, of potential violations, of open meeting laws.
The city attorney’s office on June 26 sent both Loveys and Weiss letters requesting in-person interviews by July 16.
“They both informed the City Attorney that they would not sit for an interview and that the city would have to subpoena them,” City Manager Doug Willmore said Monday. “So the City Council is taking that step.”
Willmore added that more subpoenas would “probably” be issued.
“The city has information that the possible illegal sharing of closed session information is wide ranging on a number of subjects and involve potentially dozens of individuals who received the information,” Willmore said. But under the law, he said, anyone receiving confidential closed session information has done nothing wrong.
“It is the person privy to the confidential information in the first place and sharing it who has broken the law,” he said.
The Ralph M. Brown Act explicitly prohibits the unauthorized disclosure of confidential information from a closed session by any person present. Although city councils conduct most of their business publicly, there are certain narrow conditions under state law in which they can meet in private to discuss certain matters, such as litigation and contract negotiations between the city and other parties.