Watchdog Group Launches Petition to Protect Brown Act

Californians Aware appeals to voters to help protect key provisions of the state's open-government law.

A Sacramento-based organization launched an online petition drive Sunday to amend the California constitution to ensure that municipal meeting agendas continue to be offered to the public.

In June, the state Legislature gave California cities and counties the option of not posting meeting agendas and other reports to save money. This action suspended a key provision of the 1953 Brown Act, which requires California cities, counties, school boards and special districts to follow a range of provisions in conducting their meetings openly.

On Sunday, Californians Aware launched a petition drive to place a proposition on the statewide ballot.

"Even though the law might not hold public officials accountable for no longer posting agendas or providing adequate descriptions of items on them, angry voters would hold them accountable," stated Californians Aware on its website. "Political exposure has always been a far more powerful motivator of Brown Act compliance than legal exposure."

A bill designed to preserve the Brown Act provisions is in limbo in the Assembly Appropriations Committee after the state Senate passed it.

"Staying in compliance with the Brown Act makes organizations like the ERNC much less effective on the local level," President Michael Larsen said of the latest effort to revive certain elements of the law no longer in force. "I think all levels of government should be required to make their agendas and minutes available online, but posting them in various public places seems a bit antiquated."

Click here to read more about the online petition or to sign it.

Julie Walmsley July 23, 2012 at 11:16 PM
I attended a panel discussion at KPCC about a separate Brown Act issue, at which one of CalAware's attorneys spoke. Hope this does not appear troll-ish or like self-promotion because this link does go to my own blog. My intention is to share the discussion (transcribed most of it) with everyone. I will leave it to Ajay to keep or delete this comment as he sees fit. http://juliewalmsley.blogspot.com/2012/07/managing-speaker-conduct-in-public.html
Julie Walmsley July 23, 2012 at 11:22 PM
Rene, I can't tell you where the LAUSD $ goes but I can tell you that the problem is cultural. Unbelievable lack of accountability or even accountING at LAUSD and zero compunction about that. I observed this trying to do a story about overdue budget/budget deficits (FY 20110-2011) in Sept 2010 for another Patch site.
John Colby July 24, 2012 at 06:26 AM
My town, Santa Cruz, already has been violating the Brown Act by holding secret meetings with less than the full number of city council members. Now with the Brown Act gutted, they will undoubtedly shut citizens completely out of Santa Cruz government. This move was an abomination from a legislature controlled by Democrats — we must put pressure on our state representatives. They must know this is a make or break issue come election time. This is one more move away from local democracy towards lawless totalitarianism. Cities like Santa Cruz must not be allowed to run amuck. If they can, they will.
Tim Ryder July 24, 2012 at 07:59 AM
You're wrong again, Jennifer. The purpose of posting of the agendas is meant to reach as many stakeholders as possible and there are many people that don't have access to computers like we do. FYI, the reason I side with the 'pro-potters' on this issue is because Michael Larsen thumbed his nose at my public records request to produce for analysis the 'nuisance reports' that he supposedly has a big stack of, which has led me to the conclusion that he doesn't really have them and is just making them up. Why don't you do something more productive than slandering me and request Mr. Larsen to show those public records to you?.
Jennifer N July 24, 2012 at 12:27 PM
Tim, in no way am I slandering you, I just would like to see a valid argument on the topic written about than personal attacks on the people arguing. Mr. Larsen clearly states his desire to see information made available in the article, and you accuse him of keeping "agendas as secret as possible." As a matter of fact I think it is his vocalization and promotion of his political agendas is what so insences his detractors. If you are going to the public library to read a paper posted with ERNC agendas and minutes, then what's the difference of using the library computers to look them up?


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