PUBLIC INFORMATION -- The Asbury Park Press reports that a New Jersey state administrative law judge has fined a former Oceanport borough councilman $1,000 for failing to provide public records to Borough Clerk Kimberly Jungfer so she could provide them to people seeking the information.

"I find that Councilman Hugh Sharkey has knowingly and willfully violated (the state's Open Public Records Act) and unreasonably denied access under the totality of circumstances,'' wrote Judge Joseph F. Martone in a case dating back to 2006 that he ruled on last month.
    The judge continued that there is sufficient evidence to conclude "that the conduct and actions of Councilman Hugh Sharkey were intentional and deliberate, with knowledge of their wrongfulness and not merely negligent.''

In California, AB 1393 of 2007, by then Assemblyman Mark Leno (D-San Francisco) and sponsored by Californians Aware, would have added teeth to California's open records law, which has no penalty for simply ignoring information requests, by allowing a judge to impose a penalty award—paid by the defendant agency to the requester—of up to $100 for every day that the agency engaged in bad faith denials or delays of access to clearly public records in deliberate disregard for the law.

But the bill, including the penalty provision, was gutted in the Assembly Appropriations Committee, in a move seen by veteran observers as a casualty of inter-house, intra-party
sabotage aimed at Leno’s bills by Senate President pro Tem Don Perata
(D-Oakland). Of 13 of them making it to the Senate, only five reached the floor—with two, including AB 1393,
drastically weakened.

This beyond-coincidental trashing of
Leno’s legislative work for the year resulted from Perata’s
striving to maintain the loyalty of his fellow Democrat Senators, and specifically to protect Carole Migden, a caucus principal whose San Francisco area Senate seat Leno was then seeking—and went on to win in the succeeding June’s primary.

The
provisions summarily stricken from AB 1393 without debate or public
discussion in the committee are those passed by
the legislature in four previous bills—only to be vetoed by Governors
Davis (three times) and Schwarzenegger.