Governor Signs CRONEY Bill Into Law

Gov. Jerry Brown signed a union-backed bill Friday requiring local governments that have passed laws mandating additional disclosures during labor negotiations to also disclose more about their contract negotiations with private companies.

The Civic Reporting Openness in Negotiations Efficiency Act, or CRONEY, is organized labor’s response to a trend among local governments, particularly in conservative jurisdictions like Orange County, to pass Civic Openness in Negotiations, or COIN, laws focused on labor negotiations.

CRONEY will apply to all contracts with private companies worth more than $250,000. The provisions would no longer apply if the local agency suspends or repeals its COIN ordinance.

A key supporter hailed Brown’s signature of the law, also known as SB 331, as a win against one-sided targeting of workers.

“It’s a huge victory for working people against discriminatory tactics by politicians who have put the interests of corporations who support their campaigns above good governing,” said Jennifer Muir, general manager of the Orange County Employees Association (OCEA), which was the driving force behind CRONEY.

“What SB 331 says is…politicians can’t have it both ways and target employees for transparency while allowing corporations who are competing for the same work negotiate for sweetheart deals behind closed doors.”

Meanwhile, state Sen. John Moorlach, a leading proponent of the county’s COIN law who has long clashed with OCEA, depicted CRONEY as a law focused on a problem that doesn’t exist.

“I was not amused, but I was also not surprised,” wrote Moorlach (R-Costa Mesa), in his daily Moorlach Update.

“There have been no arrests or indictments of any County Supervisors, any contractors, or lobbyists in Orange County for contracting conflicts of interest. How can you state there is a problem, when it is purely speculative and not validated by actual legal processes?” he wrote of the law the day before Brown’s announcement.

The county’s COIN law requires, among other things, public disclosure of offers and counter-offers during negotiations, a more detailed financial analysis of proposed agreements and the posting of proposed contracts 30 days before voting on their approval.

The Orange County Board of Supervisors recently suspended it, so CRONEY wouldn’t take effect unless they re-instate COIN in the future.

In addition to the county, three cities in California have adopted COIN laws: the cities of Costa Mesa, Fullerton, and Beverly Hills.

Among CRONEY’s provisions is a requirement that an independent auditor produce a public report on the cost of proposed contracts at least 60 days before their approval. That also applies to changes to contracts.

Agencies would also have to disclose negotiation offers and counteroffers on their websites within 24 hours, details about negotiation sessions, and verbal and written communications with company representatives within 24 hours. Contracts would also have to be heard at two public meetings before being approved.

The original bill applied to contracts worth $50,000 or more. But the final bill increased the threshold to $250,000 and exempts contracts that are in response to a state of emergency.

(Click here to read CRONEY’s official legislative analysis)

Correction: Based on a state legislature analysis, a previous version of this story incorrectly stated that the East Bay Municipal Utility District had passed a COIN ordinance.  We regret the error.

You can contact Nick Gerda at, and follow him on Twitter: @nicholasgerda.

  • kburgoyne

    In GOP states the GOP state legislature would have passed a bill blocking local governments from implementing COIN if the GOP didn’t like it. The GOP loves using “big government” to tread all over smaller government whenever the GOP controls the bigger government. In this case at least the Dems didn’t block COIN, but rather simply said “if it’s good for the gander then you have to treat the goose the same way”. That was an extremely just thing to do.

  • kburgoyne

    Extremely well done. Anyone who attacks CRONEY is nothing but a GOP political minion. Why wouldn’t anyone who is for COIN also be for CRONEY unless they were nothing but a political hack minion. I’m all for local governments implementing CRONEY and COIN, and now I want to know why the GOP crooks on the OC Board of Supervisors are so afraid to keep COIN in place AND implement CRONEY.

  • KenCoop

    I believe this is a good thing overall. We taxpayers should be able to know how much someone is being paid in compensation off of government contracts. I’m betting it will put to rest the myth that private sector employees are underpaid compared to the public counterparts. Especially at the executive level.

  • LFOldTimer

    Jacki, apparently you haven’t read the details of SB331. It only punishes those counties or cities that have enacted COIN which would crack open the collective bargaining negotiations door to let the taxpayers to see how badly their going to get s*rewed by public payroll and benefit increases prior to the s*rewing actually taking place. It would give the taxpayers the opportunity to scream before they got s*rewed rather than after. The way it currently works is that the taxpayers get s*rewed on their biggest outgoing expense (payroll) behind secured closed doors and don’t figure out how badly we got s*rewed until all the signatures on down on paper. That fair, eh? Worse yet, management representing the taxpayers otftentimes give the unions sweet deals since they know it will evenutally rachet up management’s pay and benefits as well. You see, if SB331 was good law and good policy it would apply to ALL cities and counties – not just to the ones that enact COIN as an avenue of punishment for making the collective bargaining process more taxpayer transparent and friendly. Besides, the bids for private contracts are open and the taxpayers know the bid offer price of all private firms prior to the final Board vote. So we can scream BEFORE we get s*rewed, as opposed to only having the right to scream AFTER we get s*rewed by the public unions in the collective bargaining process. Now do you understand the difference?

  • LFOldTimer

    Did you expect something different? How much in campaign donations (and God only knows what else) has Brownie received from his union boys over the years? Everybody knows that in politics you don’t bite the hand that feeds ya. No idea how anyone could compare government employee collective bargaining with government contracting with private sector firms with a straight face. But whatever. We’ve (as a society) have been sliding down the slippery slope for years. And the cliff is not too far away.

    • Jacki Livingston

      How could you NOT compare them? Here, in the OC, the BoS rigs every one of the unions with their own people who will do anything they ask, in exchange for the feeding at the money trough. You act as though county politics are clean and the union is the dirty one. That is a falacy, and anyone who has ever had to deal with the county powers that be know just how corrupt and sleazy they are.

    • David Zenger

      “No idea how anyone could compare government employee collective
      bargaining with government contracts in the private sector, at least
      with a straight face.”

      Amen. It’s just bald-faced extortion.