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State Relaxes Public's Right to Know Rules

In an effort to save money, lawmakers in Sacramento have suspended mandates that require local jurisdictions to keep the public informed by posting meeting agendas.

 

City councils, school districts and other local jurisdictions now have the option of becoming more secretive — if they choose.

Last month, the state Legislature suspended the Brown Act mandate that local jurisdictions post meeting agendas for the public.

The suspension was a cost-cutting measure.

It also allows local jurisdictions to forgo reporting to the public about actions taken during closed-session meetings.

How many California municipalities will choose to abandon the right-to-know mandates is unknown.

The League of California Cities is expected to release an official statement on the issue this week, but the organization’s Communications Director Eva Spiegel said for now the suggestion to cities is “stick with the status quo."

“The League has been very involved with the Brown Act,” she said. “We have always encouraged transparency.”

In California, mandates on local jurisdictions are state-funded. Brown Act mandates have been costing the state at estimated $100 million a year.

According to watchdog Californians Aware, local jurisdictions learned how to milk the system for state support.

They “could get a windfall of cash for doing something they had always done: preparing and posting meeting agendas for their governing and other bodies as mandated by Brown Act amendments passed in 1986 — but as, in fact, routinely done anyway since time immemorial to satisfy practical and political expectations,” the nonprofit reported Friday.

The suspension could last through 2015, so it appears the public will need to demand transparency from its representatives if it wants to stay informed.

A version of this story first appeared on the .

Leah Hall July 17, 2012 at 05:06 AM
Ah yes, the "true unseen history of Marxism, progressivism and communism" -- Glenn Beck (back in the day when he had his own cable program on Fox)
Mia Ousley July 17, 2012 at 08:53 AM
Seems to me if the State wanted to save money, they could just say that info could be posted online. That way they don't have to pay for copying and the public still has the ability to know (albeit not all the public yet).
David July 17, 2012 at 12:29 PM
Leah, you do know Brecht's political leanings?
Leah Hall July 18, 2012 at 04:21 AM
Yes, quite! I have known both Bert /and/ Ernie's "leanings" since I was about six or so.
Leah Hall July 18, 2012 at 04:02 PM
Ernie is no longer satisfied with Bert's hesitation over commitment. (Ad for QueerPioneer.com) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d0xl1QjvSlg&feature=results_main&playnext=1&list=PLC96EE6560D82DA18

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