OPEN GOVERNMENT -- Sunshine Review, a national nonprofit group supporting open government at the state and local levels, has given the State of California a “Sunny Award” for having one of the most effective government websites in the nation for promoting government transparency. Los Angeles County's website won an even higher distinction—a perfect score in the competition.
OPEN MEETINGS -- A city council's firing of its city manager in a closed session labeled "evaluation of performance" rather than the more accurate statutory listing "discipline/dismissal/release" is being criticized as a violation of the Brown Act, but at least one council member says no deception was intended—the decision to fire the manager arose only once the evaluation discussion got going.
PUBLIC INFORMATION/FREE SPEECH -- A new Congressional bill responding to the Supreme Court's recently declared right of corporations to spend unlimited amounts in campaign contributions would limit corporate power to swamp other political funders' voices by requiring the leader of the largest corporate contributor to a broadcast ad to appear in that ad and state the corporation's support for the candidate or issue.
PUBLIC INFORMATION -- A bill intended to end journalists' access to the home addresses of all crime victims failed passage today on a party-line vote in the seven-member Assembly Committee on Public Safety after a presentation based on myths and distortion, but was given a chance at reconsideration in the coming days.
FREE SPEECH-- Should a panhandler be allowed to sit down as he begs passersby if standing up would be hazardous to his health? A case going to trial in Palo Alto challenges a city ordinance that, in effect, says no sitting and no exceptions for medical reasons.
PUBLIC INFORMATION -- The controversy surrounding a planned fundraising appearance by former Governor Sarah Palin at California State University Stanislaus and calls for greater transparency in arrangements for the event from Senator Leland Yee (D-San Francisco) have prompted several racist and obscene phone calls to Yee’s office and even a fax threatening the Senator’s life. Meanwhile, the public records litigation filed by Californians aware has drawn signals that appear conflicting.
PUBLIC INFORMATION -- Californians Aware and the California Newspaper Publishers Association are opposing a bill, up for its first committee hearing next Monday, that would remove the addresses of all those arrested and all crime victims from the public record, leaving only the city of residence, if any, listed.
OPEN GOVERNMENT -- Yes, Virginia, there is a generations-old secret room within FBI headquarters, whose existence until now was unknown to almost everyone who worked in the building, with filing cabinets bursting with documents outside the formal classification system, tracing our spying on foreign and domestic enemies, on foreign allies, on suspected gays, and on politicians suspected of being too cozy with organized crime figures. An unknown quantity of these files has quietly been destroyed, reports Bryan Bender in the Boston Globe.
PUBLIC INFORMATION -- Californians Aware has asked the president of California State University, Stanislaus for access to review all the university's records dealing with the planned appearance of former Alaska governor Sarah Palin at the campus's 50th anniversary celebration in June.
PUBLIC FORUM LAW -- Californians Aware is collaborating with a new investigative journalism website in Orange County to help residents understand their rights to open government and free expression and exercise them more effectively and confidently, announces General Counsel Terry Francke in Voice of OC.