Group Pushing a Secession Ballot Opens Its Doors


Score one for open meetings, zero for financial disclosure.

Valley VOTE, the group seeking a vote on San Fernando Valley political secession, decided Wednesday to open its meetings to the press--for the first time.

Directors of the group also voted to organize as a nonprofit corporation.

But Valley VOTE officials again declined to disclose any financial information, and said they have yet to decide whether they will release such information in the future.

“We have to get our house in order before we open the windows,” Valley VOTE co-founder Jeff Brain said.


Brain would only say the group has so far been financed by “donations from individuals,” whom he declined to name.

Treasurer Bruce Bialosky said Valley VOTE is not required by law to disclose financial data. He said he worries that if the names were disclosed, critics of the movement--particularly the City Council--could try to retaliate against contributors to Valley VOTE.

Council President John Ferraro, a vocal opponent of the secession effort, shrugged off suggestions he would retaliate against Valley VOTE’s supporters.

Valley VOTE has an executive board of 25 members and a permanent office on Ventura Boulevard in Sherman Oaks. Brain has been hired as the group’s full-time executive officer, along with two attorneys.

The group is preparing to launch a petition drive in April that if successful would require the Local Agency Formation Commission to study the feasibility of a separate Valley city.

If the study shows a Valley city would not create a financial burden on any resulting municipalities, the question of a secession would go on a citywide ballot.


At its executive board meeting Wednesday, the panel voted unanimously to adopt bylaws and articles of incorporation. The panel also voted to submit an application to become a nonprofit corporation with the California Franchise Tax Board.

A representative for the Franchise Tax Board confirmed the group is not required to disclose its contributors.

Until now, Valley VOTE’s executive board has held regular bimonthly meetings that were closed to the media. Brain said the meetings on the first and third Wednesdays of every month will now be open to the media, except when the board discusses matters of finance or strategy.