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Jerome Stocks Reneges on Open Government
This June, Steve Aceti made a public request of the city council. He asked that the city put a sand tax on the city council's agenda (It is now called Prop K). According to Mayor Stocks, Aceti's request was granted because the Mayor saw "no problem with a public discussion to determine which way the Council wishes to proceed," and noted that because none of the other councilmembers had objected that he "took that to be a consensus and asked that it be placed on a future agenda." It was heard weeks later.
The Mayor sets the agenda, so he has the authority to make such decisions.
It is possible that he was just giving deference to Aceti, who has allied with Stocks in the past.
After considering the Mayor's justification for putting the sand tax on the agenda I decided to try my own request. I publicly petitioned the council, just like Aceti. I asked that the council consider working on a sunshine ordinance. None of the councilmembers objected to my suggestion.
A sunshine ordinance could be helpful in keeping government open and transparent. With a good sunshine ordinance, access to public records could be ensured, meetings could be kept open, people would be notified of important activities, and important issues would always be aired.
We do have the California Public Records Act and the Brown Act. These laws set the minimum for open government. Many other cities have found it important to go beyond the minimum and have enacted sunshine ordinances. Encinitas could add some teeth to the open government laws in an ordinance as a first step. The city doesn't always do the minimum and they know that that very few people are going to go through the massive effort it takes to file a legal action against the city, so they get away with it.
I was happily surprised that Mayor Stocks decided to agree to put a sunshine ordinance on the agenda. I was surprised because I have been making this request for several years now and the request has been ignored by all but Councilmember Barth. She has taken the issue seriously. It must by mentioned that Houlihan has once given a nod to the idea, however she has been in office for eight years and has been made aware of many violations of open government laws during that time.
At this time, I believe that Stocks only agreed to the request because he was facing an upcoming election.
He agreed to have the matter heard prior to Oct 1. That was 17 days ago. I emailed him a week ago asking him about the delay.
He has not responded.
It is time for a public discussion to determine which way the Council wishes to proceed regarding open government.