OPEN GOVERNMENT — The City of Milpitas is relaxing some of the tougher standards of its four-year-old sunshine ordinance to eliminate requirements that its officials say are unwieldy, unduly time consuming for staff, or unused by the public, reports the Milpitas Post.

As approved, the city's Web site will offer access to a directory for all city documents available online and provide the public with a general direction of records not available on the Internet.

Council members, the city manager and planning commission members will continue to fill in their online calendars showing past events and appointments, but it will now exclude social or personal events. In March, the council unanimously gave their approval to other proposals to either change or keep provisions within the Open Government Ordinance. Among the provisions:

  • Shortening the timeframe regarding the availability of labor union memorandums of understanding from 15 calendar days to 10 days prior to council meetings where contracts are slated for approval.
  • Exacting a 10 cent per page charge for copies of agenda records and all documented records.
  • Eliminating the former Open Government Subcommittee and renaming it the Rules Committee.
  • Changing the response time for a public records request from seven days to 10 days.
  • Relaxing the requirement to issue a preliminary city council agenda six days before the council meeting, instead of eight days, purportedly to allow more flexibility for city staff.
  • Changing closed-door meeting transparency. City policy had been to make closed-session recordings open to public disclosure "whenever all rationales for keeping them closed" were no longer applicable and for some items, it was presumed the recordings were disclosable after two years. City officials now say these closed session recordings should never be disclosed.
  • Stop noticing, agendizing or recording proceedings of monthly city staff meetings because the public does not normally attend these meetings.
  • Deleting a requirement to formally list "sole source" city contracts or requests for proposals as this information can currently be found on the city's Web site.
  • Recommending that state Form 700, a California Fair Political Practices Commission mandate statement of economic interests for elected, and appointed officials and city employees, be placed on the city's Web site for council and planning commissioners. Currently, all Form 700s for city employees and elected officials are required for review by the city attorney and placed on the City Web site by the Milpitas City Clerk's Office.