California open government roundup: Town backpedals on shortening comment time

After citizens packed a town hall meeting in protest, the Alhambra City Council scuttled a plan to change time limits from five to three minutes and prevent speakers from submitting second requests to comment. (Pasadena Star-News, September 10, 2019, by Christopher Yee)

The Long Beach City Council is also seeking to speed up its meetings by limiting the speaking time, in their case to 90 seconds if 10 or more citizens sign up to speak on an issue. The old rule allowed three minutes per issue until it reduced speaking time after dozens had addressed the council. (Long Beach Post, September 11, 2019, by Jason Ruiz)

A San Diego community review board is drafting two new policies to bring more transparency to proceedings over complaints against city police officers. They will establish an online Open Data Portal with information and stats from each case since 2018. The review board will also soon vote on a plan to provide narrative summaries of its cases.(The San Diego Union-Tribune, September 3, 2019, by Alex Riggins)

David Wolfe of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, Cal Matters, September 9, 2019, argues that SB 268 will decrease transparency for votes on local bonds and parcel taxes by putting tax rates, the duration of the tax and amount to be raised in the ballot guide rather in the ballot label as is presently done.

Sean McMorris of the Colorado, August 31, 2019, writes that the Alhambra Planning commission is out of line in criticizing comments they say are inaccurate, slanderous, disrespectful or too critical. McMorris says these comments violate the spirit of the First Amendment and the Brown Act, California’s open meeting act.

A Superior Court judge ruled in favor of local residents in holding that the Painted Cave Volunteer Fire Department was public rather than private and had to reveal its financial records. (Santa Barbara Independent, August 27, 2019, by Evelyn Spence)

A professor is suing the San Barbara Community College for violating the Brown Act after she was heckled while reciting the flag pledge that at the time was banned by the college board. She said the board should have intervened to defend her rights under the Brown Act and the First Amendment. (The Epoch Times, August 27, 2019, by Matthew Vadum)

The Signal Editorial Board of Santa Clarita wrote a measured but sharp criticism of the William S. Hart Union High School District Board of Trustees for hiring a new superintendent entirely in secret. While noting that no laws were broken, the editorial said the board should have announced the previous superintendent’s retirement, revealed why it did not conduct a national search for a replacement, and provide details about the pool of candidates and the selection process. (The Signal, August 25, 2019)

The names of Santa Monica City council members appeared on a list of supporters for a Hotel Workers Ordinance to provide fair working conditions and protect workers from sexual violence. This was in advance of any vote on the ordinance. The union said the names appeared by mistake. (Santa Monica Lookout, August 23, 2019, by Jorge Caruso)

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