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Our View: Vote yes on Proposition 42

Posted: May 18, 2014 2:00 a.m.
Updated: May 18, 2014 2:00 a.m.
 

The Signal urges a YES vote on Proposition 42, the measure dealing with public records, open meetings and state reimbursement to local agencies.

Proposition 42 would create a constitutional requirement for local governments to adhere to the stipulations of the California Public Records Act, providing public access to government documents, and the Brown Act, requiring open public meetings.

California voters passed a similar measure in 2012 requiring local government to absorb the cost of complying with the Brown Act open meeting requirements. Proposition 42 would basically do the same for the California Public Records Act.

The state of California has been paying some costs pertaining to requests for public information.

Legislative changes to the California Public Records Act, particularly those associated with documents in electronic formats and response time frames, brought with it agreements by the state to reimburse local government for specified costs.

In a budget-cutting move the state said it would no longer provide reimbursements to local governments for public information requests, prompting the need for Proposition 42.

This measure would mean local government could not use cost reimbursement as a reason or excuse for denying the public access to public records.

Transparency in government has become a significant issue at all levels. Hard-wired requirements that create openness in government for citizens are always a good thing.

Additionally, our forefathers would see Proposition 42 as an essential tool for something they thought critical to the survival and wellbeing of the Republic: Freedom of the Press.

The one worrisome concern about Proposition 42 is the potential situation in which local government is buried in staff time and cost by large-scale requests for information.

We appreciate that this measure may create seemingly unrealistic difficulties for local government, but in the larger picture that is part of the cost of freedom.

We also believe that openness in government is not just a constitutionally supported right, but also a responsibility.

Government has a responsibility to respect the people’s right to know, and citizens have the responsibility to not abuse that privilege.

 

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