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."


Metzger continues:

The initiative is now being circulated to get the required signatures.
The highlights of the ordinance are as follows.

Meetings

  • Assures that meetings take place when and where people are most able to
    attend.
  • Keeps decision making in the open for the City Council, Rent Board,
    Library Trustees and all City boards, commissions and committees.
  • Opens up to the public committees and subcommittees that formerly were
    not subject to noticing and minute keeping requirements.
  • Gives the public the right to know how their representatives voted in
    Closed Sessions even if motions were not approved and no action taken.
  • Requires enough City Council meetings so that meetings adjourn around
    11:00 p.m.
  • Provides an orderly meeting structure so that you know in advance how
    much time you have for your comments.
  • Ensures adequate time for decision makers to hear from the public and
    study relevant information before voting on an issue.

  • Promotes civility at meetings when the public has full access to
    information and the opportunity to comment. 

  • Permits the public to place items on the agenda of the City Council
    with 100 signatures and on the agendas of boards and commissions with 50
    signatures.
  • Informs citizens about the activities of their representatives on
    regional agencies and in meetings with the University of California and
    Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.
  • Requires full disclosure of private discussions regarding development
    issues and with lobbyists.

Access to
Information

  • Organizes records to provide easier access by the public for
    information.
  • Guarantees timely access to public information, and minimizes delays
    and costs of obtaining copies of important documents.
  • Prohibits arbitrary withholding and redaction of City documents
    requested by the public.
  • Promotes greater use of electronic records in order to reduce City
    costs of providing information.
  • Provides guidelines in an atmosphere of rapidly changing technology for
    the City to smoothly transition to electronic records, reducing paper
    and significantly decreasing costs while ensuring full access to public
    information.

Implementation

  • Establishes an independent, appointed Sunshine Review Commission, with
    protections against influence by the City Council, City officials, and
    others.
  • Authorizes the Commission to work proactively with staff and decision
    makers to improve public processes, noticing, and access to information.
  • Requires timely rulings by the Commission on alleged sunshine
    violations, and provides penalties for violations in accord with
    existing Berkeley and state law.
  • Provides a process for early identification of Sunshine violations and
    to correct them so expensive litigation is avoided.
  • Identifies a funding source for the Commission to bring enforcement
    actions, and minimizes financial risk for individuals seeking to address
    violations.


If you support open government where everyone is treated fairly and you
have the same information as your elected officials and city staff, this
is the ordinance for you. If you agree and want to help, find someone
circulating the petition and sign it.

If that is
difficult for you, and you still want to help, you can go to
berkeleysunshine.org
and print out the initiative (the instructions are there} and sign
it (get your family members and friends, if they are eligible, to sign
it too), then send it to us.

Mail it to Dean
Metzger at P.O. BOX 5801, Berkeley CA, 94705 or call 549-0379 and we
will send someone to pick it up from you.


If we all work together, we can make sunshine (open government) real in
Berkeley.