(CalAware Weekly comprises this plus the two previous posts)

Open Government

Columnist: Openness Key Issue in Supervisor Race      Los Angeles City Beat  columnist Alan Mittelstaedt says that if  Los Angeles County supervisorial contenders Bernard Parks and Mark Ridley-Thomas “intend to run on a business-as-usual platform, with one favoring business and the other labor ever so slightly, they both deserve to lose. The battle should be about open government and who is committed to doing the people’s work in full view of, well, the people. . . The current supervisors, even the best ones . . . too often agree to do the people’s business in secret away from the people.”

Code of Silence Led to Orange County Jail Scandal      The Orange County Register reports that grand jury documents released this month in connection with the beating death of a jail inmate show the arrogance that kept a wall of secrecy firmly in place around the Sheriff’s Department—“a wall that eventually crumbled under its own weight.”

Public Information

Council Mum on City Manager’s Mystery Exit     The Press-Enterprise in Riverside reports that some residents are outraged and demanding an investigation of the Hemet City Council’s continued refusal to explain reasons for the recent departure of former City Manager John Davidson after just 16 months in the job, at a total cost to the city of more than $330,000. At least one resident has told the council that he will ask the California attorney general’s office to investigate.

U.S. Islamic Group Fights “Killer Bullet” Privilege
     The Associated Press reports that an Islamic charity group in court in San Francisco is challenging the Bush administration’s record use of the state secrets privilege, dubbed a "killer bullet" because it would summarily end the group’s challenge to the lawfulness of warrantless wiretapping. The Al-Haramain Islamic Foundation contends that wiretapping in 2004 was the basis on which the Treasury Department that same year formally labeled the group a terrorist organization.

Police Union Wants Accusing Councilman’s E-mail
     The San Bernardino County Sun reports that the Colton Police Officers’ Association claims messages in Councilman Richard DeLaRosa’s city-issued e-mail account are being withheld following its official request for them, as well as a copy of an investigative report into allegations of misconduct by the former police association president, filed by DeLarosa last year but determined to be unfounded after an investigation. The association is considering filing a lawsuit against DeLaRosa.

Public Records Disclose . . .
    • new evidence that emergency crews were frozen with indecision while two divers drowned in the California aqueduct last year.

Free Speech

ACLU Says Student Anti-Gay Ideas Are Protected     The American Civil Liberties Union of San Diego and Imperial Counties reports that it has filed an amicus brief in U.S. District Court in Harper v. Poway Unified School District, arguing that the anti-gay t-shirt worn by a student to protest the school’s “Day of Silence” did not amount to harassment that the school was permitted to punish.

Parade Permit Law’s Terms Held Unconstitutional
      The Metropolitan News Enterprise in Los Angeles reports that the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has held that Long Beach’s parade permit ordinance violates the First Amendment to the extent that it:

  • requires a “special event” permit for any event involving 75 or more persons if the event “may require the provision of city public services in response thereto”;
  • requires 24 hours’ notice of a “spontaneous” event, that is, one that is held in response to a newsworthy event that occurred or was disclosed in the previous five days; and
  • requires that event organizers grant the city a broadly worded hold-harmless and indemnification agreement; and
  • • grants officials unbridled discretion as to whether or not to waive permit fees and charges for city services.

Free Press

Facts, Photos Scarce As Rodeo Bull Jumps Fence     When a one-ton bull vaulted an eight-foot arena barrier at the county fairgrounds and scattered the audience from its box seats, the press was there but . . . see if you can count the cringe moments for press rights.

Bill to Protect School Journalism Advisors Moves
      The California Newspaper Publishers Association reports that SB 1370, a measure that would protect high school and college journalism advisors from being disciplined or removed from their positions for refusing to censor stories published in student newspapers, was unanimously passed by the Senate Judiciary Committee and this week approved by the entire Senate on a vote of 35-2.

Open Meetings

County School Board Closed Session Challenged      The Ventura County Star reports that county schools Superintendent Charles Weis, leaving in June for another job, said Wednesday that he suspects the county Board of Education might hold an illegal meeting next week so it can discuss the succession process behind closed doors.  The Brown Act forbids a closed session discussion of an appointment to fill a vacancy in a normally elective office, as the Star points out in an editorial today.