Sexual harassment allegations, Brown Act violations in Ventura County

Michael Powers

By KAREN VELIE

Amid allegations of sexual harassment, the Ventura County Board of Supervisors placed Executive Officer Mike Powers on leave last week, though the board allegedly failed to properly report the action leading to Brown Act violation complaints.

An outside investigation found “a preponderance of the evidence” substantiated a county employee’s claim that Powers, 30, sexually harassed her by asking her out and kissing her in the office, according to the Thousand Oaks Acorn. The employee also accused Powers of calling her a “racially insensitive nickname.”

Powers has disputed the allegations.

On March 8, the Ventura County Board of Supervisors voted to place Powers on administrated leave during a closed session meeting. Even though government agencies are required to list the reason for a closed session item on their agenda and announce any action taken after the vote, Ventura County officials did neither.

The Ralph M. Brown Act was passed in 1953 because of mounting concerns that government bodies were avoiding scrutiny by meeting secretly. The act, which has been amended and strengthened in the years since, guarantees the public the right to attend and participate in meetings of legislative bodies, to have forewarning of discussion items through posted agendas, and forbids a majority of board members from discussing government issues in private.

Powers suddenly resigned on March 10.

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