In a victory for open government, the Marin County Supervisors have dropped a policy that would have prohibited the public from seeing the salaries of most county employees. The supervisors’ change of heart followed a number of articles and editorials in the Marin Independent Journal. The newspaper argued that the ban violated the state Public Records Act. Jack Govi, assistant county counsel, said he believed the county would be within the law by withholding the salaries, but there were other factors to consider, such as the public’s right to know. “The greater public good is total and complete openness,” said Supervisor Charles McGlashan, adding that county employees should be notified that they are being “outed.” The board’s action takes effect in 60 days from last Tuesday (March 21) to give county employees notice. Keri Brenner is the Marin IJ reporter who reported the controversy. She was honored March 11 by the Society of Professional Journalists, Northern California chapter, for her work last year exposing Marin County’s ballooning pension program. Meanwhile, a suit the Contra Costa Times filed against Oakland, which refused to release the salaries of city employees who make over $100,000 a year, is pending before the California Supreme Court. Both a trial and appelate court ruled in favor of disclosure in that case.

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