The California State University Trustees don’t have to abide by the Bagley-Keene Open Meetings Act on raises for salary ranges for top executives, according to a court ruling by Judge James Chalfant.
The Bagley-Keene Open Meetings Act states: “It is the public policy of this state that public agencies exist to aid in the conduct of the people’s business and the proceedings of public agencies be conducted openly so that the public may remain informed.”
On Tuesday, Chair of the CSU Board of Trustees Herbert L. Carter and Chancellor Charles B. Reed faced a claim by Lillian Taiz, president of the California Faculty Association, for a potential violation of the Bagley-Keene act.
The court hearing discussed a meeting held by the CSU Committee on University and Faculty Personnel in January in which the committee approved the annual salary for the campus president at California Polytechnic San Luis Obispo, Dr. Jeffrey D. Armstrong, at $350,000.
The CSU “2007 Salary Schedule” was to be effective from July 1, 2007 until Feb. 1 of this year for presidents’ maximum annual salary of $328,212.
On Oct. 24, a CFA news release stated: “The CSU failed to give the public notice that this pay was more than $20,000 higher than that of the preceding president and more than $20,000 higher than what the salary range allowed.”
According to the writ of mandate, “Taiz is entitled to a judicial determination that the Bagley-Keene Open Meeting Act was applicable to Respondents’ (Carter and Reed) January 25, 2011 meeting of the Committee on University and Faculty Personnel, and that the written agenda of that meeting failed to comply with the notice requirements of the statute by failing to notify the public that the Committee on University and Faculty Personnel would consider adopting an annual salary for Armstrong that would exceed the then-current maximum annual rate of the executive management classification “president.”
In February, the CSU Trustees consented to the salary maximum of $350,004 for presidents. The legal mandate said, “… the written agenda of the meeting failed to comply with the notice requirement of the statute by failing to notify the public that the Committee on University and Faculty Personnel would consider increasing the salary range maximum for the executive management classification President.”
Glenn Rothner, CFA’s attorney, said the increasing salary range is a public matter that should be in accordance with the California open meeting laws.
“In this case the court accepted the (CSU Trustees’) argument that a salary range for executives is a meaningless, bureaucratic matter not of concern to the public,” Rothner said.
The CFA responded to the court’s decision and said the increase in executive pay “is a concern for the 99 percent,” and Rothner said the increasing salary range for executives in the CSU system is a matter of public concern.
Taiz also said Chancellor Reed’s approach to this issue is weakening the quality of education and the lack of transparency is unacceptable, particularly with the current budgetary issues in the system.