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California Legislature’s feel-good resolution on openness

The state Senate voted unanimously last week to honor “Sunshine Week” by declaring its “long tradition in support of open government and access to government records,” but in an editorial the San Francisco Chronicle observes that words aren’t always accompanied by action. The paper cites two current examples in which the Legislature turned its back on …

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In California, a clearer look at gifts to public officials

The toughest financial disclosure rules for public officials have little effect if the press and public can’t easily gain access to the information. Now the California Fair Political Practices Commission and a non-profit called Code for America are trying to bridge the information gap. By digitizing required disclosure data from California judges into spreadsheet-readable form, …

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When ‘open government’ isn’t

The rise of websites and apps that ease access to government information shouldn’t be confused with transparency, says guest columnist Evgeny Morozov in a New York Times op-ed. Morozov, author of “The Net Delusion: The Dark Side of Internet Freedom” and “To Save Everything, Click Here: The Folly of Technological Solutionism,” says the term “open …

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Government’s dangerous crackdown on whistle-blowers

In a New York Times op-ed, two esteemed First Amendment advocates argue that the Private Bradley Manning case underscores a grave threat to the press and public — no matter what you think of Manning’s judgment when he released volumes of documents to WikiLeaks. While attorney Floyd Abrams argues that Manning acted carelessly, Harvard law …

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Candidates disclose tax returns because media demand them. Why not use same strategy for campaign contributions?

BY PETER SCHEER–Everybody has a theory about why presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, in the face of mounting criticism even within his own party, refuses to make public more of his tax returns. My two cents: His returns for the years 2000-2005, before Romney had settled on a decision to seek the presidency, will …

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Debate surfaces on revising California open meeting law

Open government advocates and local government officials are weighing in on the question of amending California’s open meeting law, the Brown Act. Some claim that the law allows some government officials in bigger venues to skirt the law’s requirements while those is smaller ponds are burdened by the law’s “complexity and liability. ” -db From …

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Critics say access bill could have opposite result

A bill purporting to give the public more access to gas and electric company safety records in California could do just the opposite, opponents say. The legislation, proposed by Assemblyman Roger Dickinson, D-Sacramento, would eliminate the ability of utility companies to unilaterally declare documents secret, instead giving authority over decisions to the state Public Utilities …

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California: Palo Alto school board denies open meeting violations

Palo Alto school board members struck back at critics who accused them of violating the Brown Act, California’s open meeting law. The board was under fire from the Palo Alto Weekly for a confidential memo from the superintendent to board members. -db From the Palo Alto Weekly, June 1, 2012, by Chris Kenrick. Full story …

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Government lags in releasing 50-year-old records on JFK assassination

Government agencies in control of the records of President John F. Kennedy’s assassination are less than forthcoming in their stance on releasing the 50,000 pages of documents. To date, writes Russ Baker for Business Insider, there have been no creditable explanations for withholding the documents. -db From a commentary for Business Insider, May 31, 2012, …

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