Seventy years ago, a bow-tie-wearing San Francisco Chronicle reporter named Michael Harris penned a 10-part series he called “Your Secret Government.” His expose on what happened behind closed doors in Bay Area government offices was important but not nearly as important as the law that came as a result: The Ralph M. Brown Act.

For decades, the law has required governmental bodies in California to notice meetings, post agendas and provide public access to those meetings. It’s one of the cornerstones of democracy in our state and barely a public meeting goes by without some reference to following the letter and spirit of the Brown Act. It will be coming up even more frequently in the days and weeks to come as small-town city councils like ours grapple with whether to return to in-person meetings after two years in virtual reality.

Clay Lambert is the editorial director for Coastside News Group. After years working at regional daily newspapers, he began as editor of the Half Moon Bay Review in 2004.

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