OPEN MEETINGS -- The St.Helena Star reports that in an attempt to create greater transparency in government, the St. Helena city council is changing the way it schedules closed session discussions.

On Dec. 23, councilmembers agreed they should only meet in closed session after announcing the topics they’re discussing in open session, and allowing for public comment. They also instructed city staff to report more fully what takes place during closed session.
    The move comes after the Napa County District Attorney’s office determined the city violated the state’s open meeting law, the Brown Act, in October when it approved a property deal involving land the city needs to build a levee as part of this year’s flood control project.
    The new closed session policy would allow councilmembers to move a closed session agenda item to an open session if they agree it wouldn’t compromise the public interest. Just because an item can be discussed behind closed doors doesn’t mean it has to be, the council agreed.