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Secrecy surrounding public employees’ pay & benefits makes mockery of democracy

BY PETER SCHEER—Local officials talk a good game about government transparency and accountability. And while city council members and county supervisors often go through the motions of conducting official business in an open and public way, on the biggest, most costly and consequential issues that come before them—issues that dwarf all others by orders of […]

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On Access by Peter Scheer

Shame on Inglewood. Using copyright as a muzzle, the city files suit to censor a local critic

BY PETER SCHEER–Inglewood CA doesn’t have much to commend it. To the various reasons not to live there–like high crime rates and bankrupt schools—the city government has added this threat: if you criticize the mayor or other officials, the city will hire lawyers to censor you. That is the clear message to be drawn from […]

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On Access by Peter Scheer

Hillary’s email problem: A crucial lesson for government officials everywhere

BY PETER SCHEER–Across the country literally thousands of state and local political officials, from governors to local school superintendents, use their personal email accounts for sending and receiving messages about government business. Hardly surprising. All public officials support government transparency in the abstract, but when it comes to their own communications, most opt for secrecy. […]

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Final On Access by PS

FAC joins environmental access suit against Marin County

PETER SCHEER– FAC has joined a lawsuit against Marin County concerning an environmental dispute over  Coho salmon. Environmentalist David Schnapf filed the CPRA suit last year, seeking records about the county’s adoption of an ordinance mandated by a countywide conservation plan. Although the 2013 measure was supposed to protect salmon flows, Schnapf and other critics […]

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On Access by Peter Scheer

Should news outlets, social media & internet services curb public access to ISIS?

BY PETER SCHEER—Any rational person viewing even a portion of an ISIS snuff video has wondered: Do these maniacs really think that they can win popular support for their cause through grisly online depictions of immolations and mass beheadings?  Don’t they realize that the vast, vast majority of viewers are sickened by these images and […]

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On Access by Peter Scheer

“Let us Now Praise” a Famous Man: Ray Pryke, Friend of the First Amendment

BY PETER SCHEER—The First Amendment has lost a good friend. Raymond Pryke, a free speech provocateur, agitator for open and accountable government, and patron of First Amendment scholarship and advocacy, died February 7 in the southern California high-desert community of Hesperia, where he lived and worked for many years. He was 91. A British subject, […]

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Final On Access by PS

As he leaves the Justice Dept, AG Holder is buffing his 1st Amendment credentials

BY PETER SCHEER–Attorney General Eric Holder’s relationship with the press over the last six years has been contentious, to put it mildly. Holder and his lieutenants in the Justice Department have been zealous in their pursuit of suspected leakers of national security information–and those investigations inevitably led to battles with journalists over information about their […]

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On Access by Peter Scheer

The attacks in Paris are a clarifying moment for freedom of speech

BY PETER SCHEER–The terrorist attacks in Paris, for all their horror and barbarity, are a clarifying event. Freedom of speech, we can all see, is the ultimate soft target, as vulnerable as it is precious. The terrorists came first for journalists, selecting the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo to rid the world of satire, irreverence and […]

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On Access by Peter Scheer

Short Takes: government email, historical police records, fee awards against requesters

BY PETER SCHEER–Despite the dysfunction in Washington, Congress occasionally surprises with a modest piece of legislation that points the way for California and many other states. So it is with a 2014 Federal Records Act amendment which addresses this question: Suppose a federal employee, using his own personal text or email account, sends a message […]

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On Access by Peter Scheer

Can local legislators speak freely to voters? The answer should be an emphatic “yes.” Too often the answer given is “maybe.”

BY PETER SCHEER–Local government, Republicans and Democrats agree, is the most democratic (with a small d) form of government. The closer government is to the people, the theory goes, the more accountable it is to voters and the more responsive to the public will. Congress is the most remote, hence least accountable; your local city […]

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