Supervisors Pull Plug on Monthly Late Shows

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Orange County supervisors voted Tuesday to end their monthly night meetings because of poor attendance and financial concerns.

The board meets at 9:30 a.m. most Tuesdays but has held one 6 p.m. meeting per month since the 1994 bankruptcy. At the time, many residents complained that they could not attend daytime board meetings.

But supervisors voted 5 to 0 to stop holding night meetings starting in July because they seem unnecessary. The last one will be June 26.

Supervisors say technology has contributed to the low turnout. Board meetings have been televised for about seven months and are streamed over the Internet. Residents can e-mail questions or comments to the board.

"Except for seeing the whites of our eyes, you have all the access to supervisors you could ask for," Supervisor Todd Spitzer said.

Darlene Bloom, clerk of the board, said county staff also worried about the cost of lighting the meeting room at night and paying overtime to staff members who must be available to answer supervisors' questions.

Bloom said no studies have been conducted on the potential savings from holding only daytime meetings, but she added that "every little bit will help."

For the most part, the public seemed to support the move. Nobody spoke in opposition to the resolution, and the League of Women Voters of Orange County even wrote a letter supporting it if supervisors agree to call well-advertised evening meetings on important issues.

"The usefulness of night meetings doesn't seem to be there anymore," said Patricia Harrigan, a league representative.

But others warned that the board will have less public scrutiny without night meetings.

"They know people won't be keeping a close eye on their activities, and that can lead to excess," said Bruce Whitaker, spokesman for the Committees of Correspondence, a watchdog group that originally pushed for night meetings during the bankruptcy.

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