OPEN MEETINGS -- The Tulare County Board of Supervisors came in for strong criticism recently for
skirting the Brown Act at a meeting last September and not informing the
public that they were voting on a pay raise, reports the Visalia Times-Delta.

Terry Francke, general counsel for Californians Aware, called it a "deliberate attempt to mask" what the supervisors were doing.       

At
issue is the agenda for the supervisors' Sept. 30 meeting. It stated
that the supervisors were voting to "approve changes" for some county
employees. What the supervisors did was vote to increase the pay of a group of highly compensated employees, including elected officials.  

By
voting to raise the elected officials' pay, the supervisors triggered a
pay raise for themselves of 4.56 percent plus other benefits. There was
no mention of a raise for the supervisors in any documents available to
the public and it was made public only in a newspaper legal notice 3
1/2 months later.

California's open meetings law, the Ralph M.
Brown Act, says a public agency's agenda must contain "a brief general
description of each item of business to be transacted or discussed."

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An advisory opinion by the state Attorney General's
office said agendas must describe items of business in a way the public
"can determine whether to monitor or participate in the meeting."