California open government roundup: Sonoma County must release report on sheriff

Sonoma County must release a report on an harassment complaint against an elected sheriff who claimed a California law protected personnel records of police officers. Referring to the report, a state appeals court wrote, “The truth and accuracy of such statements [the harassment complaint] must be open to testing in the public square. Indeed, the fact we are dealing with what may fairly be characterized as political speech among elected officials toward one another underscores the importance of reading the CPRA [California Public Records Act] in favor of disclosure….” (Reason, July 5, 022, by Eugene Volokh)

Three members of the Dublin school district’s board allegedly conspired outside of public meetings to manipulate an election district map to pit two other trustees against each other in the next election. (Danville San Ramon, July 5, 2022, by Jeanita Lyman)

The Anderson Valley Advertiser, July 4, 2022, claims that the Mendocino County Board of Supervisors violated the Brown Act, the state’s open meeting law, over a pay increase to the county counsel and in rescinding the action hired an expensive San Francisco law firm.

A Marin County grand jury report recommends that a sheriff oversight board be established to improve the relationship between the sheriff’s office and Marin City residents. (Patch, July 2, 2022, by Bay City News)

The Marin County district attorney appointed a special investigator to investigate Brown Act violations and improve community education and outreach. (Patch, July 1, 2022, by Gideon Rubin)

The Cypress City Council censured a fellow council member for disclosing information from closed sessions and failing to respond to public records requests. (California City News, June 30, 2022

The League of California Cities, June 29, 2022, reports that the state legislature rejected opportunities to modernize the Brown Act in failing to support AB 1944 and AB 2449. 1944 would allow cities to hold remote public meeting with live stream and virtual participation but without posting a location. 2449 would also allow meetings without a posting of location but with more restrictions. The measures were designed to provide more safety while retaining public participation.

Parents in Dublin Unified School District are concerned that the process of redrawing the trustee redistricting map was not transparent. (Patch, June 28, 2022, by Sara Schaefer)

The Orange County Grand Jury criticized Anaheim city leaders for their conduct in the sale of Angel Stadium to the Los Angeles Angels. Their report found the city rushed the decision, failed to be transparent and in the process damaged public trust. (Spectrum News, June 28, 2022, by Joseph Pimentel)

The Brentwood City Council removed a planning commissioner who they claimed violated the Brown Act. The council objected to his sending an e-mail to colleagues about how he was going to vote unless they changed his mind, perhaps still legal but ill-advised. (East County Today, June 27, 2022, by ECT)

A state audit found that the Bellflower Unified School District violated transparency laws, obscuring their mismanagement, by failing to respond to public records requests and not reporting results of closed sessions to the public. (Los Cerritos News, June 26, 2022, by Brian Hews)

Two trustees of the Tehachapi Unified School District alleged that the board president failed to comply with the Brown Act in not reporting action from a closed session. (Tehachapi News, June 20, 2022, by Claudia Elliott)

In spite of a 2019 law bringing transparency to police conduct, police agencies are still stonewalling requests for records of police misconduct and other records. The Electronic Frontier Foundation found itself in a two-year and counting ordeal to obtain records relating to the San Francisco Police Department’s alleged violation of a ban on using facial recognition tech. (techdirt, June 17, 2022, by Tim Cushing)

The California Public Utilities Commission (PUC) is facing a lawsuit over its violations of the public’s right to know and its handling of catastrophic fires. FAC’s David Snyder said the PUC said that the public is entitled to court review of the agency’s denials of their public records requests. (San Francisco Public Press, May 2, 2022, by Seth Rosenfeld)

A state appeals court ruled against the PUC in June, ordering them to release information to the public. FAC’s David Snyder said “The court has made clear that an agency’s administrative procedures can’t trump the Public Records Act, and that an agency like the PUC cannot indefinitely delay processing a public records request.” (Los Angeles Times, June 26, 2022, by Seth Rosenfeld of the San Francisco Public Press)

The San Diego Police Department took two years in spite of the 2019 police transparency law to comply with requests for a video of a shooting of a mentally ill citizen. (The San Diego Union-Tribune, May 29, 2022, by David Hernandez)

A state appeals court found that an anti-SLAPP motion by the Catholic Archbishop of Los Angeles was properly denied, rejecting again the motion’s contention that the Archdiocese failure to speak about a priest’s molestation of children was protected speech. (Metropolitan News-Enterprise, May 23, 2022, by a MetNews Staff Writer)