Chantal M. Lovell, Staff Writer
Posted: 05/06/2010 08:48:33 PM PDT

REDLANDS – The City Council has voted unanimously to move forward in putting a longtime practice on the books.

The council on Tuesday ordered the city attorney to draft an ordinance adding to the Redlands Municipal Code that legal settlements and real estate transactions approved by the council in closed session be disclosed publicly. The ordinance would pertain to settlements and transactions that require subsequent approval from another party.

Mayor Pro Tem Jerry Bean made the motion because he said the public should always be privy to what the council is doing in closed session.

Bean said state law does not require cities to make the information public unless asked, but he wanted to do so in the spirit of the Brown Act.

“(The actions) could remain forever secret,” Bean said. “You shouldn’t have the ability to secretly buy real estate or settle lawsuits in that manner.”

Bean said it has long been the policy of the city attorney to disclose such information but wants that made official.

“Our city attorney, as a matter of his personal preference, has always revealed these in an information report to the City Council, but it seems to me that these should always be reported out,” Bean said.

City Attorney Dan McHugh said it is just better policy to report these transactions. McHugh’s staff will draft the ordinance and should have it ready for the next council meeting.

If approved by the council, the ordinance
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would require transactions be reported out to the council and public with a staff report and copy of the settlement or transaction, Bean said.

“The whole thing is about making the city government more transparent,” Bean said.

The motion comes only one council meeting after Bean voted with Mayor Pat Gilbreath and Councilman Mick Gallagher to establish a budget advisory subcommittee that is not subject to the Brown Act.

It does not have to disclose its proceedings because fewer than three elected officials serve on the committee.

Gilbreath appointed Bean and Gallagher to serve on the subcommittee to work with the city manager to present a balanced budget.

Bean and Gallagher maintain they make no decisions and are only there to advise the city manager.

Councilman Pete Aguilar, who voted against creating the budget advisory subcommittee, said he is all for full disclosure.

That is why he supports the drafting of an ordinance to require disclosure of closed session agreements.

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