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The Brown Act

June, 2017

The Brown Act, which governs how local governments conduct their board, council or commission meetings, ensures the public has a limited window into the setting of compensation for executives.

Under these rules, governing bodies can discuss strategy with, and provide direction to, labor negotiators in closed session, outside of public view. But, no action can be taken to authorize, approve or award executive compensation behind closed doors. Action on executive compensation can only be taken in open session, and only at regularly scheduled—rather than special—meetings.

In practice, this has meant that some agencies have placed contracts with top executives on their consent agendas, typically meaning no discussion is heard in public. But, starting in 2017, the law has changed once more.

Now oral reports must be given to summarize recommended compensation, before action is taken on the contracts or agencies' executives.

This also includes department heads and other employees who have personal employment agreements with local agencies.

This change may be uncomfortable for some local government employees, but the public will now have a clearer view into what its leaders are being paid for their services.


For more information, please contact:

Shayna van Hoften

415-995-5880 Direct Phone
415-995-3515 Fax

Email Attorney


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