A&A: City Hall withholding excessive water users’ ID info

Q: I cover city council meetings for a weekly newspaper in Northern California. City Hall will not release names or addresses for those exceeding city water rationing requirements. The city is in a declared water emergency. I can get a list of high users identified as residential or business water users like motels or restaurants, but […]

Continue Reading →

A&A: Are letters to legislators public?

Q: Yesterday I asked a California Senate committee for copies of the opposition letters they received regarding an active bill and shortly thereafter they faxed seven letters to me. So far so good, but on three of the letters the identity of the writer was redacted. (The other four letters were from organizations, and their identities […]

Continue Reading →

A&A: Urgent meeting scheduled for July 4 seemed to circumvent the public process

Q: Our municipality has filed for bankruptcy. As part of this ongoing nonsense the town officials have been doing what ever they can to be sneaky and underhanded. Recently they held a special meeting on July 4. The meeting was to transfer money from a special tax fund for a purpose specifically excluded from use by the bond measure. […]

Continue Reading →

A&A: City Councilmembers texting each other while deliberating

Q: Can a city council members in CA engage in text message/emailing while deliberating over an appeal brought by an applicant (CEQA Doc) after his application failed at the planning commission level? A: If I understand correctly, you are asking whether a city council member can text or email other city council members over an […]

Continue Reading →

A&A: State university won’t disclose student cafeteria workers’ pay

Q: I’m a  journalist at a state university where our student cafeteria came under fire from the administration over a party they’d hosted. A source told me that the student managers of the cafeteria were suspended without pay. I contacted the accounting department to request how much those students were paid per week over the past 2 months. […]

Continue Reading →

A&A: Is footage taken by an officer wearing a body-camera a public document?

Q: How do I go about requesting from the Police Dept. footage  taken with a hidden camera worn by one of their officers? Also if it actually wasn’t a Dept. issued body camera but either a personal or Dept. Issued cell/smart phone set up as a camera worn on the officer’s person, does that footage qualify under the Public […]

Continue Reading →

A&A: Can a fee be charged for requesting public documents held in storage?

Q: I recently submitted a Public Records Act request in my city.  I have just been told that I will be charged a $33.25 fee for retrieving documents from storage.  Is this legal?  It certainly does not seem consistent with the PRA documentation I have read. A: The city may argue that charges for retrieval are based on the […]

Continue Reading →

A&A: Are there legal actions to protect community newspaper against harassment, threats?

Q: I volunteer to help run a small community newspaper. Before we went to print on our first issue, we started receiving bashings from a political group. The leader is a teacher who used her school email to spread her hate to us. After taking up the matter with the Superintendent, things slowed down. Recently, however, this teacher admitted on […]

Continue Reading →

Europe’s High Court Has No Business Telling Google How to Edit Its Search Results

The decision of Europe’s highest court ordering Google to delete, on request, search results embarrassing to private individuals, is a watershed — and not a good one — for the Internet and for freedom of speech. Not that I’m unsympathetic to the college senior whose high school bust for marijuana possession is the first thing […]

Continue Reading →

A&A: Can I use audio clips of solicitors refusing to be interviewed?

Q: I’m a journalist at a radio station doing a story about people who are soliciting money pledges for various causes on the local university campus, outdoors, in public.   I approached them with a recorder, identified myself as a radio reporter and started asking them questions. Their response was, “I dont want to answer any questions!” Is it legal to include […]

Continue Reading →