Court rules University of California compensation votes must be public

CALIFORNIA — A state court ruled in August that the Universityof California Board of Regents cannot decide how much to pay universityadministrators in meetings not open to the public.

The board can,however, debate the matters in private, but no votes can be taken.

“Education Code section 92032 authorizes the Regent’s compensationcommittees to consider or discuss compensation proposals of top Universityofficers in closed session,” Smith wrote in her opinion. “However, when ‘action’is taken by the committees, it must be in open session.”

The decisioncomes after the San Francisco Chronicle filed a lawsuit requesting theboard of regents’ compensation committee decide on executive pay in openmeetings. Two of the Chronicle‘s claims, one that the university berequired to release records from previous meetings held in private and anotherrequiring future private meetings to be videotaped, were denied.

At therequest of a state senator, the California Legislature’s legal counsel sent a12-page opinion to the board of regents in May that also said voting oncompensation in closed meetings was a violation of state law.

University of California General Counsel Jeff Blair told the University ofCalifornia at Berkeley’s student newspaper, The Daily Californian,that it did not intend to appeal any of the ruling.