Under the law known as the Brown Act, local government agencies such as the City of Oakdale, Oakdale Joint Unified School District, Oakdale Irrigation District, and Oak Valley Hospital District must post public meeting agendas and release closed session decisions.
Submerged within the State’s 2012-2013 budget however, is a new provision that may have the outcome of suspending portions of the “Open Meetings Act/Brown Act Reform.” In an effort to reduce expenditures, the budget provision is suspending reimbursement to local agencies for costs of posting meeting agendas to the public.
A crucial stipulation that fell under this category as a mandate guaranteeing public access to local government meetings was just deleted from the budget last month. This “cost saving measure” now relinquishes a government agency’s obligations to report to the public actions taken while it was in closed session.
With the state’s budget issues, the suspension could last through 2015, and to skeptics it appears the public will need to request transparency from its government officials if it wants to stay apprised.
For the entire story and its effects on local agencies, look to the July 25 edition of The Leader.