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Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Booting Reporters From City Hall Meeting Is Perfectly Legal, City Attorney Says

Posted By on Tue, Mar 8, 2011 at 12:57 PM

click to enlarge Reporting live from San Francisco City Hall
  • Reporting live from San Francisco City Hall

Yesterday SF Weekly told you about an incident where Supervisor Jane Kim's staff kicked reporters out of a City Hall meeting as residents gathered to vent about the homeless problem in the Tenderloin neighborhood.

It turns, the freshman supervisor's questionable move was perfectly legal, albeit bad PR.

The City Attorney tells us today that Kim did not violate any public meeting laws because her office never posted the event as open to the public. Instead, it was constituents who had sent around a flier, inviting the community, and members of the press to the "public meeting."

"Private meetings can be held with elected officials because it might deal with private constituent matters," said Jack Song, spokesman with the City Attorney's Office. 

"When there is a public meeting, then of course the press is invited to that."

Reporters, including one from the Examiner, left the meeting as instructed, yet at least one writer still managed to squeeze a story out of it -- and quote people from the meeting.

Kim's office told SF Weekly that the meeting was private, and listed as a "community meeting" on the supervisors calendar.

The reason for the closed-door hearing was to give constituents the chance to speak their minds about the Next Door homeless shelter without the fear of being quoted as callous in the press.

"Having a bunch of reporters there is not conducive to speaking your mind freely, you know?" a Kim aide told SF Weekly.

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About The Author

Erin Sherbert

Erin Sherbert

Erin Sherbert was the Online News Editor for SF Weekly from 2010 to 2015. She's a Texas native and has a closet full of cowboy boots to prove it.


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