TUSTIN : Posing for Picture Triggers Probe Call

City Councilman John Kelly has asked the state attorney general to determine if three council opponents violated the state's open meeting law by posing for a newspaper photographer.

In letters to Atty. Gen. John Van de Kamp and Dist. Atty. Cecil Hicks, Kelly charged that council members Ursula E. Kennedy, Ronald B. Hoesterey and Richard B. Edgar held an illegal meeting by posing for the picture.

The three--all bitter opponents of Kelly's on the divided council--were pictured together in The Times Orange County Edition for an article headlined "Troubles in Tustin."

The article, which chronicled disagreements between the council members, featured a separate photo of Kelly and Earl J. Prescott. Kelly claims that the gathering of the three council members for the photo constituted an illegal meeting.

Under the Brown Act, a gathering of a quorum constitutes a meeting if business is transacted or discussed. Before meeting, the council is required to give notice of the meeting and its agenda.

At the last council meeting, Kelly asked City Atty. James Rourke to investigate the incident.

In a memo to Kelly dated Oct. 31, Rourke said the Brown Act was not violated because no official business was conducted.

But Kelly maintains the Brown Act was violated because he and Prescott were not notified of the meeting.

He said he is concerned because the voting pattern of Kennedy, Hoesterey and Edgar indicates they are discussing business outside of council chambers. Kelly and Prescott routinely disagree with Kennedy, Edgar and Hoesterey on major issues.

Kennedy said she and the other members had no intention of discussing public business, but were merely fulfilling a request by the press.

"We are very sensitive about the Brown Act on this council and take great pains not to violate it," Kennedy said. "It never occurred to me that there would be a problem. We often appear together socially, at Chamber of Commerce mixers and other events."

"Mr. Kelly should consider working more on the important issues of the city instead of furthering this type of dissent," she said.

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