The Brown Act Does Not Allow “Closed Session” Discussions by a Public Entity On Project Labor Agreements
Posted by Craig P. Alexander on November 13, 2013
As Chris Nguyen reported in the two previous posts, I have the honor of representing Rancho Santiago Community College Board of Trustee member Phillip Yarbrough on the issue of the use of “closed sessions” by the Board of Trustees to discuss Project Labor Agreements. As I reviewed the Brown Act including the Appeals Court decisions and the Attorney General opinions on this subject, it became very clear to me that a public entity that is subject to the Brown Act, is not allowed to hold “closed sessions” of the Board meetings to discuss Project Labor Agreements. This issue is complicated in its legal explanation and Chris attached a copy of the letter I sent to the Chancellor and the Board President last week explaining my conclusions to them.
For those of you not familiar with the Brown Act – the Ralph M. Brown Act makes it a requirement that a local public entity must hold its meetings in open sessions where members of the public may attend and address the board on subjects the Board is dealing with in that meeting. There are some expressly stated exceptions to that rule that authorize the board to have “closed sessions” where the public may not listen to the board’s discussions on those topics. In short, the topic of Project Labor Agreements is not one of the authorized subjects for discussion in closed session. Thus any discussions on PLAs must be held in open session. The Board of Trustees did the right thing tonight by voting to hold all future meetings on this topic in open session.