|California ready to gut public records law|
In the guise of saving money, state legislators are in cahoots with the governor to make your government less transparent, less beholden to its citizens and much less trustworthy.
This may well be the legacy of Gov. Jerry Brown's final act and the Democratic supermajority running things in Sacramento.
At issue are a pair of budget trailers -- SB 71 and AB 76 -- that would make aspects of the California Public Records Act voluntary ... because, you know, voluntary compliance to the law seems like such a good idea.
Specifically, if the governor signs these laughable amendments, local government won't have to respond to public records requests until they get around to it. They won't have to tell you why they are unresponsive. They will be free to raise salaries and approve cost overruns without a moment's explanation. Last year your state legislators allowed them to stop posting agendas because that was just too darn expensive. Tell me: Does government have a more important role than informing the public of its work and priorities?
The response from ink-stained wretches like myself has been swift and loud.
From the Sacramento Bee: The current Legislature – and the administration of Gov. Jerry Brown – is shaping up to be the worst in recent memory for transparent government.
From the Los Angeles Times: Being accountable to voters, serving the public, running government as a transparent and representative institution and not as a self-serving racket — it's all just so expensive.
From the Bakersfield Californian: Not to be cynical or anything, but if agencies didn't legally have to give people records detailing their own waste, fraud and abuse, do you really think they would?
Only one Democrat voted against this travesty -- Sen. Leland Yee of San Francisco. We'll be asking other legislators in our area why it is so expensive to comply with open records law and why compliance isn't one of their legislative priorities. In the meantime, let Gov. Brown know how you feel about this one. Here's the contact form: