FAC Joins Coalition Urging SF Mayor to Restore Rights Under Sunshine Ordinance

FAC joined a coalition of media and transparency groups urging San Francisco Mayor London Breed to restore all aspects of the city’s open-government ordinance, parts of which she suspended after the city declared an emergency due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The letter to Mayor Breed sent Friday, April 17 by the Northern California Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists and a group of local and national organizations comes after the city suspended — indefinitely — key provisions of the Sunshine Ordinance, a voter-enacted government transparency law. While some disruption to government services is understandable, the coalition notes the importance of transparency during a time when the government’s role in daily lives is greater.

From the letter:
“It is not necessary to suspend the right to receive documents and information exchanged during contract negotiations, nor the right to a response to a Public Records Act request unimpeded by the often abused ‘catch-all’ exemption from disclosure found in Government Code section 6255, to combat this public health emergency. In fact, the Sunshine Ordinance section expressly forbids ‘assert(ing) an exemption for withholding for any document or information based on a finding or showing that the public interest in withholding the information outweighs the public interest in disclosure.'”

The letter, authored by SPJ NorCal, is signed by FAC and Pacific Media Workers Guild (The NewsGuild-Communications Workers of America Local 39521, AFL-CIO), California News Publishers Association, San Franciscans for Sunshine Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press.

Read the full letter.