Sanity prevails with respect to public records access…or does it?

Posted on June 20, 2013

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Last night Speaker of the Assembly John Perez announced that the state assembly would vote today on Assembly trailer bill 71 that would reverse the dismantling of the public records act, currently being gutted by assembly trailer bill 76. Assembly bill 76 turned the public records act into optional best practices that can be ignored. The reason for this is that some time ago, state mandates on local government required that the state reimburse local entities for the costs of complying with a good government state mandate.

Being his typical obstructionist self, Senator Steinberg indicated that the assembly bill would receive no consideration by the State Senate because he intended to hold it up. Instead, as Governor moonbeam envisions, he wishes to place the costs of public records act requests in front of the voters as an initiative that would shift the cost burden from the state to the government entity.

Good government is simply good business. Think about all of the times the media has been able to access public records to demonstrate that the public is being ripped off and witness people being held accountable.  The story of self-dealing in Bell, California would have never saw the light of day had disclosure been an optional best practice. In our minds, there is room for both approaches. If Governor moonbeam and Senator Steinberg want to obstruct the public records act thereby promoting fraud, waste, abuse, public corruption, self-dealing and more, they need to rethink that with respect to their political aspirations as they will own the results. While that might not concern Governor moonbeam, this should concern Senator Steinberg.

As stated, there is room for compromise. Ballot an initiative that would address costs retroactively to June 30th, 2013 so the state could recover monies from locals should the initiative pass. Preserve access to public records as a rule of law and simply not a best practice.

Senator Steinberg and Governor Brown, what you are proposing will cost more than the people can afford. Open government is a right of the people and a responsibility of public servants. Senator Leno, the devil is in the details so your initiative should be expanding access, shifting costs and enhancing good government and quasi-governmental access. Blocking assembly bill 71 from consideration amounts to selling out your constituents.