California open government roundup

A bill to strengthen the Brown Act, California’s open government law is proceeding in the state legislature. The bill adds to the reasons a district attorney or citizen can petition to void a government act for failure to provide adequate opportunity for public participation. It also provides for higher fines for public officials who try to prevent public access. (Cal Watchdog, January 16, 2014, by Katy Grimes)

Several local agencies in California have been charged with failing to allow the public to know about the actions of their elected representatives. The East Valley Water District Board in San Bernardino County asked the district attorney to investigate a possible Brown Act violation involving the setting of a salary for a new general manager. (Highland Community News, January 28, 2014, by Charles Roberts)

Some Atwater citizens are concerned that there was a meeting of a citizen oversight committee held late last year, unposted and closed to the public, over how to spend money from a recently-passed tax measure to improve public safety. (Merced Sun-Star, January 19, 2014, by Ramona Giwargis)

Imperial Valley citizens are questioning the procedure used to increase water rates  at a recent meeting of the Imperial Irrigation District Board of Directors. The concern is that the board raised the rates during a discussion of the 2014 budget without informing the public that water rates would be an action item. (Imperial Valley Press, January 23, 2-14, by Antoine Abou-Diwan)