California open government roundup: Quest fails to unseal federal court surveillance files

Riana Pfefferkorn of The Center for Internet and Society, May 21, 2019, has failed to obtain court records on surveillance  in the Northern District of California even though the public is entitled to the records that are under seal but no longer need to be sealed. The judge ruled there was no First Amendment right to the records. In Pfefferkorn’s favor, the judge rejected the government’s argument that administrative burdens did not cancel out a constitutional right of access.

State Senator John M.W. Moorlach is backing SB 598 to enable the public to easily access online their city’s audited annual financial statements. The bill would make the documents searchable and easily uploaded for comparison with other cities. (Cal Matters, May 15, 2019, by John M. W. Moorlach)

Congresswoman Anna Eshoo is introducing legislation to give local governments leeway in regulating the initiation of 5G wireless infrastructure. She claimed that the Federal Communications Commission allowed the industry to write the regulations without input from cities and counties. New smartphone technology will speed up service and provide an “Internet of Things.” The network will not only link phones and computers but also facilitate robotic systems, gaming, video calls, and downloading files. (San Francisco Chronicle, May 15, 2019, by Anna Eshoo and Sam Liccardo)

A former Marin Municipal Water District director, the Marin Independent Journal, May 23, 2019,  writes that the board is calling for unpopular tax rate increases and has created a muddled operation with  failure to differentiate between recurring and other large nonreoccuring projects. “MMWD needs a strong dose of transparency,” writes Richard L., Harris Jr.,  “including enhanced financial statements reflecting what’s actually going on in the district. The rate setting process should involve an oversight committee comprised of financial professionals – not politicians or special-interest group representatives. ” To encourage more public participation, all meetings should only be held at night rather than in the morning.

A year after a grand jury found the Coachella Valley Cemetery trustees violated the Brown Act and operated without full compliance with the Brown Act, the state’s open meeting law, board meeting agendas are not regularly posted on the district’s website. (News Channel 3, May 23, 2019, by John White)

Citizens frustrated with the Anaheim City Council’s stadium leasing decisions with the major league Angels baseball team want the council to restore monthy updates on negotiations suspended in March. They have also filed a public records request on information on negotiations. The Orange County Communities Organized for Responsible Development is concerned that the council is giving up too much to the team without gaining the public benefits that other cities have obtained from pro teams. (OC Weekly, May 16, 2019, by Gabriel San Román)

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