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(CalAware Weekly comprises this plus the two previous posts)

Open Government

San Francisco Meetings Seen as Digitally Recorded      The San Franciso Examiner reports that Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi has introduced legislation that would require the City to digitally record audio and video of public meetings at City Hall as well as establish an archive, with footage held for two years. The bill would require posting the meetings’ footage within 72 hours.

Website Invites Ideas for Federal Sunshine Reform       The Sunlight Foundation has announced the launch of a new site, PublicMarkup.org, where members of the public are able to mark up the draft of federal transparency legislation, entitled "The Transparency in Government Act of 2008." Sponsors report 63 contributions in the first week.

Public Information

License Plates Shield Officials from Traffic Tickets     The Orange County Register  reports that a program that makes it difficult for the DMV to trace the owners of vehicles with certain license plates, designed 30 years ago to protect police from criminals, has been expanded to cover hundreds of thousands of other public employees—from police dispatchers to museum guards—who face little threat from the public, as well as their spouses and children.  But even as one Assemblyman tries to rein in the program, the Register reports, his colleagues (who are also covered) are voting to expand it to include veterinarians, firefighters and code enforcement officers.

Judge Asked to Unseal Road Rage Search Warrants
     The San Diego Union-Tribune reports that it and three other news organizations are asking a judge to unseal search warrants that may be related to the March 15 shooting of an unarmed Oceanside woman and her 8-year-old son by an off-duty San Diego police officer in an apparent road rage confrontation.

Sheriff Won’t Release 911 Tapes in Killing of Teen      The Santa Rosa Press Democrat reports that sheriff’s officials have decided that emergency 911 phone calls made before 16-year-old Jeremiah Chass of Sebastopol was shot to death by Sonoma County sheriff's deputies 13 months ago will not be made public.

City Officials Refuse to Release Traffic Study
    The San Jose Mercury News reports that a preliminary study of how many cars daily would likely visit a proposed Target store in Scotts Valley has been withheld by city officials who say the public interest is better served by keeping the information confidential.

Paper Sues County Recorder for Death Certificate     The Sacramento Valley Mirror in Willows today filed suit against Glenn County and its clerk-recorder for access to a death certificate, which is presumed public under the California Public Records Act.  When editor and publisher Tim Crews orally asked to see a particular certificate in mid-March he was flatly turned down by the clerk-recorder’s staff and told that such records were “secured.”

Report: Bill on Computer Mapping Systems Pulled     Tom Newton, general counsel and head lobbyist for the California Newspaper Publishers Association, today reports that AB 1978 has been withdrawn by its author.  The bill would have made it more difficult to obtain copies of public agencies’ computer mapping system data.

Probe into City Hall Romances Ordered Released       The Redding Record Searchlight reports that a Shasta County Superior Court judge has ordered Redding officials to release to the newspaper documents and e-mails stemming from their investigation of City Hall affairs. Eight employees were accused of conducting affairs on city property during working hours and/or exchanging pornographic e-mail via city computers from early 2006 through mid-August.

Feinstein Blocks Release of Congressional Reports      Government Executive magazine reports that a bill urging the Senate to make Congressional Research Service reports publicly available is stalled in the Senate Rules Committee and may be the latest of a series of such efforts to fail, thanks to Senator Dianne Feinstein.

Paper Creates Demand to See Video of Shooting       The Sacramento Bee is stimulating community interest in the release by the Sacramento County Sheriff of a video recording of a confrontation that led a deputy to fatally shoot the driver of a car.   The sheriff has said that the tape justifies the shooting, and the Bee has requested a copy and is encouraging  public interest by creating a sign-up list of those who want to know how the sheriff’s office responds.

Public Records Disclosed Reveal . . .

    • that a large number of cargo ships visiting California ports may be unable to perform an important task after an oil spill: phoning critical agencies and emergency teams within 30 minutes.

Free Speech

Vietnamese Newspaper Gets Order Limiting Protest      The Orange County Register reports that a Superior Court judge has granted a preliminary injunction requested by Nguoi Viet Daily News against protesters who have been demonstrating outside the paper's Little Saigon headquarters for more than two months now because they believe it supports communists.

City to Decide If Free Speech Means DVD Speech      The North County Times reports that Escondido city officials are tackling a thorny issue for the first time this week: Should people be allowed to use DVDs, slide shows or other electronic displays when they address the City Council during public comment periods?

Whistleblowers

Ex-Official: I Was Fired for Questioning Spending     KCRA Channel 3 reports that Sacramento Public Library’s former finance director says he was pushed out for reporting questionable spending of public funds; three other employees are accused of kickbacks and other criminal abuses.

Free Press

Sheriff’s Wife Suing Publisher for Defamation      The Riverside Press-Enterprise reports that beginning in 1999, a weekly newspaper chain published stories in which anonymous sources alleged that the owner of a grief and crisis counseling firm contracting with San Bernardino County had leaked confidential client information to Sheriff Gary Penrod, then the owner's boyfriend.  The libel suit the owner brought finally goes to trial next month.

Reporter Surrenders Police Radio after Complaint      The Manteca Sun-Post reports that the police department has asked a Manteca Bulletin reporter to return a police radio the department gave him several months ago, after complaints that it was favoring one media outlet.

Open Meetings

Mosquito Board to Redo Questionable Meeting      The Palm Springs Desert Sun reports that objections over how the Coachella Valley Mosquito and Vector Control District board of trustees conducted a meeting at which the district's general manager was placed on leave without permitting public comment prompted a "do-over" of the action at a recent meeting.  Meanwhile board members were surprised to learn that the board president had quietly directed staff to spend $2,500 to sweep district meeting rooms for electronic bugs.