Op-Ed: Prop. 42 (CA) is chance for voters to make transparency a priority

Come June, you can send a message about transparency. Vote yes on Prop. 42. Tell local governments it's their responsibility to build — and pay for — a culture of openness. You can also strip from Gov. Jerry Brown, and any of his successors, the ability to gut the public records act by cooking up another cockamamie, disingenuous scheme to turn out the lights.

When Brown wanted to make the transparency law a "best practice," or an option, for local governments last year, he and his legislative minions claimed it was about money. Under the principle of state mandate, state pay, Sacramento is supposed to reimburse local governments for complying with state laws. But reimbursements for PRA and open meeting law compliance are already nonexistent. Just because state government is supposed to pay doesn't mean it does.

The more cynical among us saw something else: a play to make government harder to access and understand. Brown and his crew eventually backed down after a shock wave of criticism. Now, Prop. 42 can end this silly "who pays for it?" issue and California voters can ensure transparency going forward, even though the PRA remains a weak law riddled with loopholes. Prop. 42 won't remove those loopholes, or force self-interested bureaucrats to take transparency seriously. What it will do really is keep things from getting worse. It won't change that California is full of two-faced leaders when it comes to open and ethical government. Continue>>>