Student paper sues regents over secret phone calls and meeting

CALIFORNIA — Phone calls and a back room meeting have led to a suit against Gov. Pete Wilson and the University of California System Board of Regents.The Daily Nexus, a student newspaper at the University of California at Santa Barbara, is suing the regents over closed meetings held before a vote last summer that repealed affirmative action in admissions and hiring throughout the university system. Wilson is a member of the board of regents.The newspaper has emphasized that the suit is not about the affirmative action decision itself, which has been widely criticized, but instead about violations of the open meetings law.The paper and Milloy are being supported by the ACLU of Southern California, the First Amendment Project, the Lawyer’s Committee for Civil Rights of the San Francisco Bay Area, Equal Rights Advocates and the ACLU of Northern California.Tim Milloy, a reporter at The Daily Nexus and a plaintiff in the suit, said that Wilson made phone calls and held a back- room meeting to secure votes before the public meeting began.The Bagley-Keene Act, a state law in California, says that meetings held by state agencies, including regents, must be held in public. The suit filed by Milloy and The Daily Nexus alleges that the regents’ actions violated the act.Milloy filed dozens of requests, most of which were denied, for information about these calls. He said he has been given different accounts by the governor’s office about what kinds of documents exist, if any.Milloy said that his requests were denied for various reasons many of which were “ridiculous.”Suzanne Garner, editor of The Daily Nexus, said she feels it is the right of the public to have access to any information required by law to be disclosed. What transpired was misleading, she said, and more information should be revealed.