The right for Open Government

Dear Editor,

 I have long been a champion of Open Government and the Peoples Right to Know. I also believe government should welcome the public’s participation in the decision making process.

In California, the cornerstone of openness and transparency in government is the Brown Act. This is the state’s open meeting law that requires local governments to prepare and post agendas for public meetings and disclose decisions made in closed meetings. Because these requirements are considered to be a state mandate the state must reimburse the cities, counties and other agencies for the costs associated with these requirements

When the state budget was adopted, the money to reimburse those costs was cut from the budget. By suspending the mandate, the state also suspended the requirement to continue posting public meeting agendas.

Without public notice of where and when meetings are scheduled and what business is to be addressed the public is shut out of the decision making process. Furthermore, actions taken in closed sessions may never be reveled to the public.

In such cases the public will have no basis for challenging the secrecy and no remedy for correcting it.

That is why I requested that this issue be placed on the August 15 council agenda, the first meeting after the summer recess, to ensure that in Encinitas, the Brown Act requirements and all legal remedies will be enforced.

It is critical that the City of Encinitas send a clear message to the citizens that we value open government and public participation. I believe the city council will agree and will join other cities in reaffirming our support for the agenda and disclosure requirements.

Show your support for open government by contacting the city council and let them know you want the city to continue with the current Brown Act posting and action disclosure requirements and their enforceability by any of the judicial remedies provided in the Brown Act.

You can also help to ensure a permanent, statewide solution. Senator Leland Yee’s Senate Constitutional Amendment (SCA) 7 would place on the statewide ballot a simple constitutional requirement: “Each public body shall provide public notice of its meetings and shall publicly disclose any action taken.” If approved by the voters, it becomes the law and could not be “suspended” again without a vote of the public.

However, this bill is stuck in the Appropriations Committee. Contact Assemblymember Fuentes, Chair of the Assembly Appropriations Committee and Speaker of the Assembly John Perez and let them know you want SCA 7 (Yee) released from the Appropriations Committee suspense file and to allow the bill to go to the full assembly for a vote.

Hon. Felipe Fuentes (Chair) Email assemblymember.fuentes@assembly.ca.gov

Hon. John A. Pérez (Assembly Speaker) Email speaker.perez@assembly.ca.gov

Teresa Arballo Barth,

Councilwoman

City of Encinitas

 

 

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  1. The easiest way to contact the legislators on this is online at http://tinyurl.com/CalAware

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