Monday, July 16, 2012

California 2012-13 budget item will be removed

Advance notice of public municipal agendas will continue. The State budget item has remained unfunded since 2005, and is being removed. 

San Francisco Chronicle/John King, 7/14/12, "open government at heart of budget cut."

Budget item, now you see it now you don't
"California's 59-year-old Ralph M. Brown Act is meant to ensure open and accessible government. These days, it also shows how convoluted the state can be.  A key feature of the act - that local elected bodies and commissions must post their meeting agendas in advance - was suspended as part of the new state budget, a bookkeeping move that could save the state $96 million in 2012-13.

By saying it won't pick up the tab for local government to spread the word, the state appears to have removed the legal obligation of local governments to publicize the details of future meetings. But the obligation will return if voters approve the tax increase sought this November by Gov. Jerry Brown - and many local officials, at least in the Bay Area, say the issue is moot because the reality of today's society is the push for more access, not less. 

The 1986 addition to the Brown Act, dubbed the Open Meeting Act, is one of 56 mandates that have been suspended in the current budget. And while this is the first year the open meeting mandate is formally suspended, there have been almost no reimbursements to local governments since 2005. That's where the $96 million comes from; it's the accumulation of "mandated" reimbursements that still are owed." : Read Article.

Background information and comment:  There is a rumor that the January, 2012 Brown Act has been amended mid-term July, 2012. That rumor appears to be false, see first paragraph of Californians Aware, 7/13/12. 

Also see "Brown Act Amendments for 2012", 12/13/11. Brown Act Amendments occurred January 1, 2012. . Of these, AB 1344 requires posting public meeting agendas on existing municipality websites. That strengthens the Brown Act, not diminishes it. Whereas, according to the Chronicle article above,  State funding of  municipal public meeting agendas effectively ended July, 2005. This article is  posted in follow-up to 7/16/12 comments made on "Bankruptcy warnings in CA".

Reference - California Budget, July 2012-13.

Posted by Kathy Meeh


Anonymous said...

No longer a legal obligation? Nice, especially the closed session part. Why stir up the natives/scare the sheep? We'll just do it this once.

Anonymous said...

Will Rich Campbell pledge to support open gov't with a thorough posting of all council and commission agendas?
Neither Campbell nor Clifford did a very good job of this on planning commission.

Anonymous said...

If they're going to violate the Brown Act that was definitely the way to do it...clumsy, out in the open, no hope of secrecy. Seen, heard, and corrected. I'd worry a lot more about the closed session reporting that is no longer legally required. Tempting for those who think only they know what's best for the public and that's a personality trait found in abundance at city hall. It would be hard to detect. Slippery slope.

Kathy Meeh said...

"No longer a legal obligation?" Anon 1045.

I've added further comments to the article. It appears the State will no longer fund required municipal Agenda postings. Hence the line item has been removed from the State budget. The article indicates the State has not funded the line item (for the most part) since 2005-- that's 7 years ago.

Anon 1105, I'm genuinely annoyed by your negative comments about Tom Clifford. Tom has offered practical ideas on the Planning Commission. He described a city development vision when he ran for city council. He was the only Commissioner to ask if the Planning Commission had violated the Brown Act when that occurred. He posts informed, helpful information and comments on this blog. He also has the integrity to use his own name.

Anonymous said...

Planning commiss open gov't violation.
Well, Tom Clifford did ask if the open gov't law was being violated and was told YES by the planning director. Clifford then went ahead and voted and did in fact violate open gov't rules. He ain't no hero.
Rich Campbell, EPA region 9 lawyer took it upon himself to heavily criticize the whistleblower.
In the next planning commiss mtg all these open gov't violations were unwound as everyone fell all over themselves pledging support for open gov't.
If they are so tone deaf on fundamental open gov't, I don't see how anyone can support either for Council.
I hope the Tribune and Patch both run a specific candidate question: If the County District Atty finds a commissioner to have violated open gov't law, would you as a Council member support removing that person from the commission?

Anonymous said...

Oh how I love Monday morning quarterbacks like anon@221 safely on the sidelines announcing "He ain't no hero". Of course you would have stifled your colleagues or marched alone off the dais. All based on a wishy-washy answer from a too timid/too new staff member (the real fail in the thing)that everyone else clearly ignored. All in real time as the thing was actually happening. Yeah, sure you would.
I have no problem with the way Mr. Clifford handled himself on this one. Wouldn't vote for Campbell because I don't like the way he votes. IMO the Brown Act stuff won't hurt him a bit in the election. It won't stick to him because he wasn't there and the voters troubled by this non-issue weren't going to vote for him anyway. Campbell's enviro support will be very focused and organized. Hope the opposition runs just a couple good candidates really well or the guy will get in.

Anonymous said...

Kathy re your 141, just to be clear, whether in fact mandated reimbursements were made or not made, there was a legal posting and closed session reporting requirement in place that now is not. It wasn't that long ago that council agendas were being published on the Thursday or Friday right before the meeting. Timing has improved and I'd like to think we won't backslide. However, it's the loophole regarding the reporting to the public of actions taken in closed session that is more worrisome. There are just too many stressed out, gun shy public servants all over California and more on the way. Don't need any new loopholes. Just saying.

Anonymous said...

re Brown act we really don't get the agendas that much earlier than before. Maybe a day or two tops. Always less than a weeks time.

Melvin said...

We have three attorneys on the Planning Commission. That's THREE ATTORNEYS! They should be aware of what constitutes a Brown Act violation on two fronts, they are attorneys, and two, they are on the Planning Commission. It took a contractor to bring up the concerns about Brown Act violations. Unfortunately, he continued on and violated them anyway. Clifford is a nice guys but I would question his choice that meeting. And Campbell doesn't seem to think that violating law is that big a deal. I wonder if he takes that stance in his role as a Federal Attorney? I wouldn't vote for any of the planning commissioners solely on their facilitation of an unprecedented admonishment by the DA over the Brown Act violation. Never before in Pacifica history has the DA found it necessary to step in.

Anonymous said...

It isn't going to stick to any of them. Nobody outside of Fix cares about this. Watergate it wasn't. The DA was publicly invited in, yawned, said to self-remedy, fini. Around county offices "effin' Pacifica clowns" has been a commonly used term for years. That and Pathetica.

Anonymous said...

THREE ATTORNEYS!!!! Well, there's your problem. They knew exactly what they were doing and how very little trouble they'd be in. Risk
was slight.