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Grand Jury Report Urges Airing Marin Public Employee Salary & Benefit Increases Pre-Approval

The primary focus of my Marin Post blog series is the importance of Good Governance practices in Marin. While some officials and jurisdictions are doing a good job, others are not.

An important case in point of governance practices needing improvement -are those related to approval of public employee salary and benefit increases, per the June 4 2015 publicly released Marin Civil Grand Jury Report,"The Need for Labor Negotiation Transparency." The Grand Jury recommendations seem likely to result in a much more robust and open public review process of public employee labor negotiations.

The Grand Jury report criticizes the lack of full public disclosure of the terms and taxpayer costs of proposed public employee labor agreements prior to being voted upon (and nearly always approved) by elected officials, which has typically occured only 3-4 days after such upcoming votes are disclosed via the posting of the meeting agenda.

To redress the lack of public transparency in labor negotiations, the Grand Jury report recommends that each Public Employer (City, Town or County) adopt a Civic Openness in Negotiations (COIN) procedure. This would involve using an independent lead negotiator (who's not an employee of that jurisdiction) to negotiate any changes in labor terms; the financial impact of such changes would be evaluated by an independent auditor. Per the Grand Jury's recommendations, the tentative terms and costs of any changed labor contract would then be fully disclosed to the public seven days prior to being discussed at a public meeting; a final vote shall not occur until a second, properly agendized public meeting.

The Grand Jury directs that each jurisdiction (City, Town, or County) implement its recommended COIN process no later than June 1, 2016 (or its next labor negotiation if that occurs sooner). The Grand Jury asks for responses (conducted in public pursuant to the Brown Act) from the following: Marin County Board of Supervisors; City/Town Councils of Belvedere, Corte Madera, Fairfax, Larkspur, Mill Valley, Novato, Ross, San Anselmo, San Rafael, Sausalito, and Tiburon.

For more information, please refer to

1.the Grand Jury report

2. Nels Johnson's Marin IJ article.


Grand Jury Report, Pension Reform, Public Employee Pensions