Calif. voters approve open government, pass Prop 42

California voters handily approved ballot measures Tuesday requiring that local governments pay the cost of making their records and meetings public. Proposition 42, which amends the state constitution to require that governments pay for complying with state transparency laws, led with 60 percent of the vote after 1.8 million ballots counted. It was backed by the state Democratic and Republican parties, taxpayer advocates and labor unions.

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Peter Scheer: All levels of government must be transparent, so yes on (CA) Prop 42

Proposition 42, on the ballot June 4, will amend the state Constitution to assure local governments — cities, counties, school boards, etc. — are legally bound to observe open-government requirements. If you prefer transparency to secrecy in your city or county government, the choice is clear: Vote for Prop 42.

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Editorial: Vote YES on Prop 42 if you value open-government. Vote no if you prefer secrecy

Prop 42, on the ballot for California’s June 4 election, will amend the Constitution to assure that local governments are legally bound to observe open-government requirements. If you prefer transparency to secrecy in your city government, local school board or county government, then the choice is clear: You should vote for Prop 42.

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Santa Rosa (CA) selects members for open government task force

Santa Rosa's Open Government Task Force has finished selecting its members and set its first meeting for April 3.

Vice Mayor Robin Swinth and Councilwoman Erin Carlstrom are heading the 11-member task force, which is charged with producing a report about the city's commitment to open and transparent government.

“I think the panel represents a group of people with diverse backgrounds who are going to add a lot to this discussion,” Swinth said Tuesday.

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San Diegans have a right to transparency in government

As stated in the preamble to the Brown Act, our state’s open government law: “The people, in delegating authority, do not give their public servants the right to decide what is good for the people to know and what is not good for them to know. The people insist on remaining informed so that they may retain control over the instruments they have created.”

In the last few weeks, the city of San Diego has experienced two major failures in providing the public with open and transparent government.

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First Amendment Coalition: California Open Government Roundup

A bill to strengthen the Brown Act, California’s open government law is proceeding in the state legislature. The bill adds to the reasons a district attorney or citizen can petition to void a government act for failure to provide adequate opportunity for public participation. It also provides for higher fines for public officials who try to prevent public access. (Cal Watchdog, January 16, 2014, by Katy Grimes)

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Peter Scheer: NSA may have adhered to legal rules, but legal rules can’t keep up with changes in surveillance technology

From First Amendment Coalition: A year or two from now, when investigators have taken stock of all the revelations in the NSA records released by Edward Snowden, the verdict is likely to be that the exposed NSA surveillance activities were NOT unlawful.

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SF law firm weighs in on Sorenson decision

From TheCalifornian.com: A San Francisco law firm is jumping on a local bandwagon asking the California Supreme Court to review an appellate court’s decision that would ultimately close all conservatorship hearings to the public.

In a Thursday amici letter to the Supreme Court, Duffy Carolan of Davis Wright Tremaine LLP, argues the Sixth District Court of Appeals relied on a faulty understanding of the law to rule that all Lanterman-Petris-Short Act proceedings ought to be closed.

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Peter Scheer: NYT still has the power to alter the facts of the very story on which it is reporting

From First Amendment Coalition: Long gone are the days when major newspapers and network news operations had the power, through their selection of stories, to set the political agenda. That's a change for the better, to be sure. But the best of the ancient media regime are still peerless in their ability to compel change in the actions of the people and institutions they report on.

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Voice of OC asking California Supreme Court to hear records case

From Voice of OC: Voice of OC and open-government advocate Californians Aware have petitioned the state Supreme Court to overturn an Orange County gag order, arguing the county is trying “an end run” to hide what executives may have known about alleged sexual abuse of female workers.

Earlier this year, county officials, including the Board of Supervisors, took the unusual step of seeking the order in criminal court so they wouldn’t have to make information public in the case of former county Public Works executive Carlos Bustamante.

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