The First Amendment Coalition opposes Proposition E, a November-election ballot measure about public access to San Francisco city Board and Commission meetings.
FAC supports reforms that make San Francisco’s political process more transparent and more open to voices that are not currently heard, and FAC supports the use of technology to make government more accountable to the people. But Prop E is a flawed proposal that will create serious, practical problems.
For example, Prop E allows organized groups (consisting of at least 50 requesters) to dictate the sequence for city Board and Commission consideration of items on their meeting agendas, and, further, to demand that specific agenda items be taken up at a designated time at public meetings. This favors organized groups over the voices of individual citizens. And it is unworkable. It will put the scheduling and organizing of public meetings in a straitjacket that will take an already cumbersome process and make it worse.
We note, however, that one provision of Prop E — the live-streaming of Board and Commission public meetings — is an idea that warrants further consideration. It can be implemented with off-the-shelf technology and, if limited to the most important Boards and Commissions, should not be unduly costly. (In fact, by eliminating the need for continued broadcasting of Board of Supervisors’ meetings over a dedicated cable television station, live-streaming could lower overall costs).
The subject of improved public access to and participation in Boards and Commissions is an important one. FAC recommends that the matter be taken up by the Sunshine Task Force, the long-established body that is the appropriate venue for developing such proposals by way of proceedings that include all interested parties.
Here’s the full text of Prop E.