PUBLIC INFORMATION — "Most criticism of the Freedom of Information Act centers on agency refusals to disclose requested records in a timely manner, notes federal secrecy-watcher Steven Aftergood. "But a federal appeals court said this week that a Defense Department agency was 'arbitrary and capricious' in its decision to release documents to a Freedom of Information Act requester." The embarrassed parties: defense contractors Sikorsky Aircraft and Pratt & Whitney.
OPEN GOVERNMENT — "After a couple of weeks of negotiating with the city bureaucracy the Berkeley Sunshine Ordinance has cleared all of the hurdles for circulating an initiative," reports ordinance organizer Dean Metzger in the Berkeley Daily Planet. "Due to the lack of support from our city elected officials and city staff, the committee felt that the only way to get real sunshine (open government) in Berkeley was to circulate the ordinance as an initiative and place the ordinance on the November 2010 ballot."
OPEN GOVERNMENT — The Senate Rules Committee has approved a request by Senator Leland Yee (D-San Francisco/San Mateo) to establish a Select Committee on Californias Public Records and Open Meeting Laws, of which Yee will chair. Select committees study complex issues rather than considering particular bills, but their work may lead to legislation.
FREE SPEECH — The California Supreme Court today upheld a Los Angeles International Airport ordinance barring Hare Krishnas from soliciting donations within airport terminals, reports Will Buchanan for the Christian Science Monitor. They can speak about their beliefs inside, but not seek money.
PUBLIC INFORMATION — Mike McKee, reporting in the San Francisco Recorder, notes that UCLA law professor Richard Sander's long-proposed study of law school affirmative action policies' effect, if any, on California State Bar examinations' pass rates met another obstacle recently. In a tentative opinion, San Francisco Superior Court Judge Curtis Karnow concluded that the documents Sander seekshistorical data on past bar examsdon't fall within the scope of documents traditionally subject to public disclosure.
FREE SPEECH – Patterson City Attorney George Logan has filed a libel lawsuit against an anonymous group of locals behind the Patterson IrriTator website, who refer to themselves collectively and individually as Fred Ross, reports Kendall Wright in the Patterson Irrigator.
OPEN GOVERNMENT — The San Francisco Sunshine Ordinance Task Force will hold special meetings on Tuesdays, March 30 and April 6, to try to put into final form and language a series of amendments aimed at improving the Sunshine Ordinance. Both meetings will take place in City Hall Room 406, starting at 5 p.m. The latest version of the amendments is available on the Task Force's web site, http://sfgov.org/sunshine ; click on "Proposed Sunshine Ordinance Amendments March 2010" under "Announcements". Written comments may be sent c/o Task Force Clerk Chris Rustom — by e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org or by postal mail to City Hall Room 244, 1 Dr. Carlton B. Goodlett Place, San Francisco 94102.
PUBLIC FORUM LAW — For his efforts to bring greater government transparency and protection for speech and press rights, Senator Leland Yee (D-San Francisco/San Mateo) was honored with the Sunshine Award by the San Diego Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ) and, a few days earlier. by the San Francisco SPJ chapter with the James Madison Freedom of Information Award. A Madison Award also went to Californians Aware for its work as a nonprofit organization.
PUBLIC INFORMATION — A bill by Assembly Member Mike Eng (D-El Monte) that would require all audits conducted by state agencies, as well as all state contracts valued at $5,000 or more, to be placed on a central website for review by the public, passed its first test today, gaining approval in the Assembly Committee on Businesses and Professions on a 7-2 vote. AB 1899 is co-sponsored by SEIU Local 1000 and Californians Aware.
OPEN GOVERNMENT — A Salinas Californian audit of public records compliance at local cities and Monterey County found uneven performance among the former and complete failure at the latter, report Leslie Griffy and Erandi Garcia.