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Freedom of Information Act

A&A: How can I find out if a non-profit is cooking the books?

Q: I’m pretty sure a 501(c) 3 in San Francisco is cooking its books. For example, claiming on their 990 that a certain program cost $50,000 when I think it’s more like $500. Can I demand their receipts under a FOIA request? Is there a reward for discovering and proving such scammers? A: It appears […]

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A&A: Do Chair’s new rules for committee members violate the Brown Act?

Q: As an appointed member of a City committee I have made several complaints to the County Air Quality District due to egregious violations of CEQA by a rogue contractor who was receiving no oversight from the city.  The Chair of my committee, whose employer gets subcontracts from this “rogue contractor,” has now drafted a set of “communication protocols” […]

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Public and/or private documents

A&A: Are blueprints of public buildings public under the CPRA?

Q: I was looking at looking at electrical plans from 1997 on the Dept. of Building and Safety’s computer. I took a few pictures of the screen and was told I could not do that and that I should know better. The permit tech said they are under copyright and I must have a letter from the […]

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A&A: My CPRA requests have been ignored. What can I do?

Q: I recently filed CPRA requests with both the California Department of Justice. I am being ignored. These requests have to do with the hot-button issue of adult guardianships, information which the powers that be might not be too happy to release. Nevertheless, the Sunshine laws mandate disclosure. As I am being stonewalled, I am requesting […]

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Student Free Speech

A&A: Threatened with expulsion for posting on public college online forum

Q: I posted some helpful information on a public college’s online-class forum and was threatened with expulsion. The forum is in an asynchronous online class where any student is allowed to share; not in a class-assignment area. I need advice on how to protect myself. A:  Your inquiry raises some interesting questions regarding the First Amendment and what is […]

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School Board

A&A: State appointed School District Trustee violating Brown Act, CPRA

Q:  In October 2012 the State took over the school district and our School Board lost its authority. A State Trustee was appointed and he acts as the School Board. Our group has been monitoring the administration of the school district since April 2013. Since then we have observed numerous violations of the legislation authorizing […]

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A&A: Can CA legally charge fees for filming on private property?

Q: Is it legal for Los Angeles County to charge a fee to film on private property when no public roads or public services are needed? Isn’t this against constitutional rights to free speech? A: Pursuant to the Los Angeles County Code of Ordinances § 22.56.1925 (accessible here:, an application for a temporary use (filming) permit must be […]

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CPRA Request Ignored

A&A: Powers that be ignored CPRA request. What should I do next?

Q: I recently filed CPRA requests with the California Department of Justice having to do with a hot-button issue the powers that be might not be too happy to make public. Nevertheless, the Sunshine laws mandate disclosure. As I am being stonewalled, I am requesting input as to what I can do. A: Where a Public Records Act […]

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Law Enforcement Exemptions

A&A: Can I access driver ID’s from traffic-stop police reports?

Q: I am working on a story about traffic stops and would like to request the city’s police department for records related to about 10 incidents involving drivers with suspended licenses (I have the incident numbers). But before I make my request: Can the police department deny me accessing the name, address or other fields in […]

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A&A: Are school district’s attorney fees public records?

Q: I would like to know if a detail report of legal counsel’s fees charged to the district is a public record.  The attorney has told the district administrator that his invoices are not public records. A: The California Public Records act provides access to any “writing containing information relating to the conduct of the public’s […]

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