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Sunshine Advocates Decry San Francisco Ballot Measure That Would Let Lawmakers Tamper With Voter-Passed Transparency Laws

By Richard Knee, FAC Guest Columnist — Advocates for government transparency, including the First Amendment Coalition, are aligning against a measure on San Francisco’s November ballot that would, among other things, empower city officials to tamper with the city’s Sunshine Ordinance, which provides a greater level of public access to records and meetings than does California law. …

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Conservatives riled by social media’s banning individuals for violating its rules

Actor James Woods, a conservative, protested Twitter’s ban from its platform for posting a satirical hoax campaign message with the headline, “We’re making a Woman’s Vote Worth more by staying home.” Twitter claimed Woods was misleading others in a way that could affect the midterm elections. (The Huffington Post, September 24, 2018, by David Barden) …

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Berkeley considers changing practice of shaming protesters on social media

The Berkeley City Council is deciding whether to suspend its practice of posting names, mug shots and hometowns of those arrested during protests. Berkeley residents complained when the police made postings after a August 5 protest during which 400 antifa and anti-fascists showed up to conduct a mostly peaceful demonstration. The city is now considering …

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Federal spying on journalists enabled by weak administrative rules some still secret

Memos by former Attorney General Eric Holder stated that the federal government could use the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) to spy on journalists. FISA has been used to spy on U.S citizens sometimes without a warrant. The guidelines under the Obama administration required the approval of the attorney general and deputy attorney general before …

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Journalists go to court to obtain FCC records on net neutrality public comment period

Suspecting Russian influence during the Federal Communications Commission public hearing period on net neutrality, the New York Times is suing the commission for relevant records. The Times filed the lawsuit this week under the Freedom of Information Act after the commission failed to produce the requested information. A Democratic commissioner had written that Russians sent …

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Legal scholars want Watergate report unsealed for help in Mueller probe

To provide special counsel Robert Mueller with some guidance over what to do after his investigation of the Trump administration and Russian election meddling is over, three legal scholars are suggesting that it’s time to unseal the report sent to Congress during the Watergate investigation. (The New York Times, September 14, 2018, by Charlie Savage) …

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Chief Justice Roberts allows PAC to keep donor list private

Shortly after the District of Columbia U.S. Circuit  of Appeals turned down a plea from the conservative nonprofit Crossroads GPS to keep its donor list private, U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts granted the emergency stay. The D.C. Circuit will now hear the case while Crossroads keeps its donor list secret. (Reuters, September 17, …

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California open government roundup: Legislature passes bills to bolster public records access

Governor Jerry Brown announced September 17 that he signed SB 1244, a small but significant change to the California Public Records Act. The bill changes the word “plaintiff” to “requester” to forestall government agencies who block access to records from collecting fees intended for public records requesters. “The spark behind the bill was a school …

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First Amendment: Federal judge dumps California law banning gun displays

A federal judge struck a 95-year-old California law ruling that the state could not prevent gun stores from using handguns in window displays. The law was intended to prevent suicidal citizens from impulsively buying a gun. Finding no evidence that impulse buying causes suicides and noting that the state already has a 10-day waiting period …

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Free speech: Trump administration wants to charge demonstrators on public land

Interior Secretary Ray Zinke has floated a proposal to charge protesters on public lands an “event management” fee. The fee would cover the costs of fencing, personnel salaries, trash removal and damages to grass. If enacted, the proposal will undoubtedly end up in court for its egregious burden on protesters. The Trump administration is ignoring …

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