FAC joins with Santa Rosa Press Democrat to host Open Government candidates’ forum

Peter and Paul Gullixson
FAC’s Peter Scheer & the PD’s Paul Gullixson

FAC headed north this week to co-host an Open Government Candidates’ Forum with the Santa Rosa Press Democrat.

The event provided a unique opportunity for members of the community, which a year earlier was rocked by the tragic shooting death of Andy Lopez, 13, by a Sonoma County Sheriff’s Deputy, to hear candidates for city council answer tough questions on government openness and transparency, issues that have taken center stage in the community since the shooting.

FAC Executive Director Peter Scheer led the discussion on how citizens can protect their rights to access government meetings and public Santa Rosa community members quiz FAC's Scheer on open government lawsrecords and how the Coalition can help when access is denied.

Scheer and Press Democrat Editorial Director Paul Gullixson, who is a member of FAC’s board, quizzed the eight city council candidates for their responses to hot button issues such as how they viewed the controversial decision to shut down City Hall and cancel a council meeting in response to a peaceful march after the shooting; how they would have handled the release of information on council decisions that were made in closed session, and whether council members should have the freedom to speak in general terms to the public about issues such as the shooting incident.

Community members also heard from Robin Swinth, Co-Chair of the Open Government Task Force, formed by Mayor Scott Bartley in the wake of the Lopez shooting.  Swinth offered a preview of recommendations that the task force will be putting forward to the City next month.  

Next month, FAC will be heading to Southern California for an Open Government forum co-hosted by UC Irvine School of Law.

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