Meeting management is big business for governments at every level, and the recent enactment of SB 751 has many public agencies reviewing the policies and tools they use to manage their public meetings. SB 751 requires legislative bodies subject to the Brown Act to report how each individual official votes on any action during a public meeting, in addition to recording the vote in the meeting minutes.

Many councils, boards, and commissions use technology to manage agendas, track votes, and handle requests to speak. Some larger agencies link this technology with touchscreens, audience display boards, and other audio-visual equipment. The cost of these technology suites can exceed $50,000 each, and the expense grows exponentially with each additional feature. The technology can soon become outdated, and often requires specialized technical support to operate.

Brian Probolsky, a member of the Moulton-Niguel Water District Board of Directors, wanted a more cost-effective New Tools to Comply with the Brown Act and Increase Transparencyway to deliver these tools. Probolsky developed MeetingChief with the vision that mobile computing power can help agencies comply with SB 751 and enhance the public’s ability to participate in public meetings without the build out required for an elaborate technology suite.

MeetingChief is a cloud-based meeting management application that helps elected officials manage a public meeting in real-time. The service is free (for now) and has more features than many of the most expensive meeting management systems. A meeting host creates a “virtual” meeting where the list of agenda items are displayed on-screen, members make and second motions, and votes are recorded. MeetingChief also manages the speaker queue during deliberations, staff comment, and public comment. The service can be operated in any web browser from a computer, tablet, or smartphone, and each meeting event can be tailored to the host’s specifications. Any number of members of the public can sign into the meeting as guests with their personal device in order to observe the actions taken by the legislative body, and submit requests to speak during public comment.

Other revisions to the Brown Act that take effect on January 1, 2014 were enacted by AB 246 and AB 381:

  •  AB 246 authorizes the legislative body of a local agency to include the Governor in closed session when discussing matters posing a threat to the security of facilities or public services.
  •  AB 381 exempts information regarding alternative investments from disclosure under the Brown Act.

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