Category: Open Government
VoSD Council Releases Transcript
It was just announced that the City Council has voted 8-0 to release a transcript of a 2005 meeting in which they discussed whether or not to give City Attorney Mike Aguirre permission to proceed with a pension-related lawsuit...
The council had to vote on whether or not to release their attorney client privilege regarding the transcript of the meeting, which was held during a closed session of the City Council.
ETA Note: The City of Encinitas does not keep similar records of their closed session meetings.
EXCERPTS: Local superintendents talked yesterday about the potential for millions in cuts from their budgets for next school year.
But it's difficult for the average person to know exactly what the current budgets are because many districts do not report on their Web sites how much money they spend...
Budget information is within a click or two of the home page in some school districts, such as Poway Unified, San Dieguito Union and Vista Unified.
From the California Public Records Act: (CPRA)
The people do not yield their sovereignty to the bodies that serve them. The people insist on remaining informed to retain control over the legislative bodies they have created.
The CPRA gives citizens the right to access government documents, regardless of physical form. Over the years the City of Encinitas has been less than keen on treating e-mail like all other government documents.
The election of Teresa Barth, who promised to be a champion of open government, appears to have made the difference in the council's willingness to address the subject.
From a NCT report, "Earlier this week, the City Council agreed to appoint two of its members, Teresa Barth and James Bond, to a subcommittee to develop policies and procedures for e-mail. The committee will include the city manager, city clerk, city attorney and representatives from each city department."
Scott Lewis at the Voice of San Diego recently interviewed Chula Vista Council Member John McCann (pictured) about his city's finances. Here are some shocking excerpts:
Encinitas versus the public's right to know
December 13, 2007
...How refreshing for the media, then, that a Brown Act issue in Encinitas is being raised by two council members, Teresa Barth and Maggie Houlihan, supportive of transparency in government.
Encinitas has adopted the practice of calling routine closed meetings “special” meetings, reducing the public notification requirement from 72 hours to 24 hours. City Attorney Glenn Sabine has advised the council that it can do so.
But “can” and “should” are two different questions.
Yes, the council majority of James Bond, Dan Dalager and Jerome Stocks can argue that the public and media are barred from attending closed meetings so the amount of advance notice is immaterial. But history has shown that removing transparency about public meetings and government procedures is often the first step to bad – sometimes very bad – governmental decisions...
Some public bodies are tempted to consider delicate matters in closed session, matters that legally should be brought before open session. Depriving the public of significant advance notice of closed-session agendas effectively reduces the opportunity for legal challenges beforehand...
Our thanks go to Barth and Houlihan for providing us this opportunity to enlighten the public on how public bodies should conduct their meetings...
This coastal city should end its obfuscatory practice now. Encinitas chooses to call its closed meetings “special.” We call them abhorrent.
ETA NOTE: If the City had taken up Kevin Cummins' proposal to craft a sunshine ordinance this editorial would never have been written because this issue, and others, could have then been dealt with in an open forum and without contention.
NCT Barth ends boycott of closed sessions. Councilwoman Teresa Barth said Thursday she would end her boycott of closed-session meetings but remained critical of the city's noticing policy.
Hours earlier, as the clock approached 11 p.m. Wednesday, the council debated its practice of calling closed-session talks "special meetings," for which only 24 hours' notification of the public is required.
NCT Water Authority hikes alert status. Water leaders from around San Diego County voted to formally hike their water-shortage alert status Thursday, and to buy water from Northern California farmers if possible to buttress 2008 supplies.
The vote Thursday by San Diego County Water Authority board members firmed up action the agency took in September, when it voted to start negotiating with farming interests in Butte County.