Search Results for: Salaries of public employees – Page 4

Court rules CA counties must disclose pension amounts paid to government retirees

Nov 6, 2009—In a case filed by the First Amendment Coalition, the Modesto Bee and the California Newspaper Publishers Association, a California Superior Court has ruled that county governments, upon request, must disclose–by name–their retirees’ pension payments. The Superior Court for Stanislaus County reasoned that the public interest in access to government employees’ pensions outweighs the public interest in protecting the confidentiality of that information. In 2007 the California Supreme Court ruled that government employees’

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Tulare County supervisors secretly vote pay raise, announce it nearly 4 months later

Tulare County supervisors voted pay raises for themselves and other county officials last September, but residents had no way to know what the board was up to. The agenda for the Sept. 30 meeting said merely that supervisors were considering “some changes” for employees. The decision wasn’t announced until January. In a Jan. 23 story, The Visalia Times-Delta said that “(b)y voting to raise the elected officials’ pay, the supervisors triggered a pay raise for

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Transparency: California nonprofits fight ‘reverse Public Rcords Act’

Private government contractors and others are evading public scrutiny by adopting a gambit known as a “reverse Public Records Act.” New Flyer, a Canadian bus manufacturer, contracted with L.A. for 900 natural gas vehicles agreeing to create 250 jobs in the U.S.  When the nonprofit Jobs to Move America suspected that New Flyer was not creating the promised jobs and sought to obtain records about the deal, New Flyer sued L.A. Metro to block the

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A ‘Peace Corps’ for local reporting hopes to revitalize journalism

Local newsrooms will be getting a boost next year with a new initiative Report for America (RFA) gearing up to place 1,000 journalists in local newsrooms for a year. RFA will pay 50 percent of the reporter’s salary, the newsroom 25 percent and local donors the remaining 25. Provided with mentoring and training, the hope is that the new reporters will focus on issues of real importance to the local community and revitalize the profession.

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Adverse effects of disappearance of federal open data on White House website

The end to easy access to Obama administration open data from the White House website will hurt businesses, developers and researchers say open government advocates. Most of the data has been archived and is now available albeit in inconvenient access through the National Archives and Record Administration. But many fear that the Trump administration is not committed to open data necessary for commercial and scientific enterprises. (WindowsITPro, March 2, 2017, by Todd R. Weiss) The

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A&A: Access to City Manager’s compensation denied

Q: I am a  director for the Public Utility District trying to access the General Manager’s compensation information.  Another director asked for W-2s with confidential information blacked out. And was told via email that they do not have to provide them. What information am I entitled to and how to I ask for it? The GM told us that due to client confidentiality the board has to vote to review the billing statements. He only

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Watchdog GAO sounds alarm on ethics compliance of government appointees

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) wants Congress to pass legislation to require the federal government to release details about the financial standing of thousands of political appointees. The  watchdog agency suggests releasing the appointees’ assets, debts and past salaries. The agency said the move was necessary to promote ethics in government and conflict-free leadership. (ProPublica, March 19, 2019, by Derek Kravitz) A GAO study showed that federal agencies are unable to consistently track political appointees

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A&A: Can I reqest public staff time cards?

Q: My community has a special water district. There is a manager and a five-person elected board. Would the manager’s time-card be public information? Also, the board has not approved the minutes for months. Is there a time limit to approve minutes from meetings? A: Under the California Public Records Act, public records, including “any writing containing information relating to the conduct of the public’s business prepared, owned, used, or retained by any state or

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News media suffers new cuts

More evidence that the news media is in the dumpster emerged this week with the news that 500 workers lost their jobs last week. The layoffs occurred at Vice, Quartz, The Economist, Conde Nast and Buzzfeed. It is now abundantly clear the industry needs a new business model apart from ad revenue and subscription income. (Axios, May 20, 2020, by Sara Fischer and Scott Rosenberg) During the pandemic, people are clamoring for news, but ad

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San Carlos police union challenges council member on comment about labor negotiations

The San Carlos police union is alleging that a city council member violated open meeting laws in making comments in a public meeting about contract negotiations. the comment suggested that the union might be dragging heels on contract talks to see the outcome of a sales tax increase on the November ballot. -DB San Jose Mercury News October 16, 2009 By Shaun Bishop San Carlos’ city attorney said he plans to investigate the police union’s

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Court Employee Anonymity

Court Employee Anonymity Q: The courts here operate with anonymity as to the identities of the employees therein, which appears to be an illegal circumstance.  Employees of the courts will sometimes inform the public their first names, and only the initials of their last names, but otherwise such simple information is treated as a secret.  Nobody has a name plate or business card, as far as the public is concerned. “Richard G.” is all the

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Judge says government pension records subject to disclosure

The California Supreme Court ruled in 2007 that names and salaries of government employees are public record but did not specifically mention retirees. A Contra Costa judge has now ruled that that records of county’s pension funds must be disclosed. -DB Metropolitan News-Enterprise July 15, 2009 By Sherrim M. Okamoto A county’s pension records are not exempt from disclosure pursuant to the Public Records Act, a Contra Costa Superior Court judge has ruled in what is

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California open government roundup

A bill to strengthen the Brown Act, California’s open government law is proceeding in the state legislature. The bill adds to the reasons a district attorney or citizen can petition to void a government act for failure to provide adequate opportunity for public participation. It also provides for higher fines for public officials who try to prevent public access. (Cal Watchdog, January 16, 2014, by Katy Grimes) Several local agencies in California have been charged

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Obtaining police records

Obtaining police records Q: I am trying to find out what information regarding city police officers is public, specifically their resume, criminal record and formal complaints? Any information you can give me about investigating cops would be more than wonderful, thanks so much for your time! A: Unfortunately, records about police officers are among the most difficult to obtain in California. The so-called Peace Officers Bill of Rights (in Penal Code section 832.7, among other

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Editorial calls for Placer County District Attorney to enforce state’s open government law

The Auburn Journal argued for tighter enforcement of the Brown Act, California’s open government law, in light of a $l600 dinner meeting in 2008  in Washington D.C. during which three county supervisors lobbied the local congressman. -db Auburn Journal Editorial March 7, 2010 During these tough economic times, government at every level faces media scrutiny. The public has a right to know how elected officials are spending taxpayer dollars. That’s why it’s especially troubling that

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Update on open-government legislative proposals in Sacramento

AB 1978 AB 1978, a Bill that would have closed public access to ‘basemap’ data for Geographic Information Systems (GIS), put forth by Assemblymember Jose Solorio, was dropped after opposition from the GIS/GeoData and freedom of information communities. GIS “basemap” data is used to create the base layer for all local computer mapping. The bill sought to exempt from the Public Records Act, which requires all government data to be available to the public, “metadata,

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TALK BACK

A cure worse than the disease Dan Gillmor: Peter Scheer . . . asks, “What if online portals had nothing but ‘digital fish wrap’?” He writes: “Newspapers and wire services need to figure out a way, without running afoul of antitrust laws, to agree to embargo their news content from the free Internet for a brief period — say, 24 hours — after it is made available to paying customers. The point is not to

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Commentary

Celebrate Sunshine Week in California–Hold Public Officials Accountable for Access to Information By Karl Olson Californians declared by an overwhelming vote two years ago that they have a constitutional right of access to “information concerning the conduct of the people’s business,” including both the meetings and the records of the officials who spend public money. But sometimes those same public officials have to be dragged, kicking and screaming, into recognizing that constitutional right. Consider these

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A&A: Can fees be charged for existing electronic/digital records?

Q: The County’s Public Safety Group sent me an invoice in regards to my PRA request for copies of their three existing contracts with Cal Fire. These records already exist in an electronic/ digital format. There is no reason to charge me a fee for them to be delivered to me via email. They just have to be uploaded into the email. No other public agency has charged a fee for an existing document which

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