One of the bills I encourage you to vote for on the June ballot will amend the state Constitution to incorporate the California Public Records Act.
Though that act is currently state law, government officials constantly challenge it because the act is yet another rule requiring them to be open and honest with public taxpayers — and that just doesn’t sit well with many officials, both at higher levels as well as local levels of government.
As early as last year, the Legislature OK’d certain “options,” no longer “requiring” but encouraging “best practices,” as to certain provisions in the act. These provisions, as are usual when officials take sides with government vs. taxpayers, would have weakened the CPRA.
California newspapers and open government supporters raised a ferocious and justifiable outcry.
So why is Senate Constitutional Amendment 3 on the ballot and why am I encouraging you to vote in its favor? I mean, if all we have to do as open government advocates is stomp our feet and write editorials (it’s what we like to do, right?) every time the CPRA is threatened, why is this bill on the ballot?
The Legislature backed down but not without much unnecssary cost to the taxpayers. The Legislature approved the new options, costing much money. The Legislature then revoked the provisions, costing much money. And wouldn’t it be interesting to know how much that provision cost us last year?
We pay our officials and their staff to enact smart laws on our behalf. This 2013 move did nothing on our behalf.
SCA 3 will incorporate the CPRA and the Ralph M. Brown Act into the state Constitution, making it a solid law that government officials at all levels must comply with the act — as well as pay for that compliance. So, just like the Ralph M. Brown Act — another state open government law — the Legislature can no longer fool around with our right to know where our taxpaying dollars are being spent.
Becky Clark, Editor