(CalAware Weekly comprises this plus the four previous posts)

Open Government

City Being Sued for Destroying E-mails Too Soon        The San Bernardino Sun reports  that a Colton city policy allowing internal e-mails to be deleted after 30 days has an Arcadia attorney and a local businessman fuming. Cynthia Puertas, an attorney acting on behalf of nightclub owner Henry Aguila, and pizza restaurateur Gary Grossich contend e-mails are public record and should be archived by the city for a minimum of two years, as public-record law mandates.

Editorial: Transparency Still Essential to Democracy
       The Benicia Times-Herald says that the idea of Sunshine Week—marked last week—would likely make our Founding Fathers smile.

Congressional Transparency One Element of Lessig Plan
       Wired magazine reports that Stanford law professor Lawrence Lessig last week launched an ambitious project that aims to use collaborative software to harness the extraordinary levels of pent-up political energy and dissatisfaction that voters have shown over the past two years with their members of Congress. The Change Congress program says it’s “organizing citizens to push candidates to make four simple commitments,” including “changes in the law and rules of Congress to get all members to be more public about meetings and contacts, including changing the rules so lawmakers post weekly updates of their campaign contributions, meetings with registered lobbyist, their latest earmark requests and significant changes in their personal wealth.”

Free Speech

Mayor: Olympic Torch Protests Won’t be Hassled     The San Francisco Chronicle reports that groups pressuring Mayor Gavin Newsom to release more information about plans for next month’s Olympic torch run through the city received a written commitment from officials Wednesday that police would not restrict protests.

Campus Gossip Site Prompting Official Concern        The Daily News in Los Angeles reports that some of those posting on have put up such nasty comments that a growing chorus of students and lawmakers is denouncing the site and calling for action. The California Attorney General’s Office said it will review a request by state Assemblyman Alberto Torrico, D-Fremont, to investigate the site.

Free Press

Judge Relents, Lets Reporter Back in Courtroom       The Stockton Record reports  that one of its reporters who was ordered out of the courtroom last week in the trial of one-time fugitive Eric Hu can attend after all despite his being a potential witness in the case, a judge ruled the following day. The reporter wrote a story last year based on a jailhouse interview with Hu, who is accused of attempted murder and of escaping jail and leading police on a sensational manhunt.

Chief Justice Names Court-Media Committee Panel       California Chief Justice Ronald M. George has announced the appointment of the Judicial Council’s Bench Bar Media Steering Committee, a panel that will help foster improved understanding and working relationships among California judges, lawyers, and journalists who cover legal issues and the courts. The committee is charged with recommending areas of responsibility and study for a larger Bench Bar Media Committee, to be appointed later this year.

Comment: Shrinking Capitol Press Corps Bad News     Writing in the Sacramento Bee, a former press secretary for Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger predicts that the sharp and continuing decline in numbers of reporters covering state government from Sacramento will result in a sharp degradation in the quality of the public’s awareness of political and governmental issues.

Open Meetings

Court: CSU Personnel Session Broke No Law       The San Francisco Chronicle reports that a state appeals court has ruled that California State University trustees acted legally when they held a closed-door meeting in March 2006 to consider the return of former Chancellor Barry Munitz from an eight-year leave to a high-salaried teaching position.

Editorial Questions ‘Special’ Meetings Routine     The San Diego Union-Tribune takes issue with the Encinitas City Council’s custom of using special meetings—with their relatively short public notice requirement—for all closed sessions on litigation, and then failing to report any action taken at the regular meeting, held only hours later.

Officials Meet Congressman without Public Notice
     The San Bernardino Sun reports that a majority of the Rialto City Council joined officials from several local government agencies in a February 27 Washington, D.C. meeting with Rep. Joe Baca, D-San Bernardino, with no special meeting notice posted to alert the public.

Public Information

Judge Won’t Seal Transcripts in Jail Inmate’s Death       The Los Angeles Times reports that the Orange County Sheriff’s Department has lost its bid to extend the seal on thousands of pages of transcripts from a grand jury investigation into the October 2006 death of a jail inmate. The department was also denied the right to review the testimony before being released to the public.

Newspaper Does Its Own Information Practices Audit       The Newport Beach/Costa Mesa Daily Pilot reports that in observance of Sunshine Week last week it “asked various public officials for information as a sort of test to see how accessible and transparent they are. Terry Francke, an expert with the open government advocacy group  Californians Aware, helped us assess how the agencies responded.”

Columnist: Sex Crime Victims’ Identities Not Public       Writing in the Redding Record Searchlight, columnist Silas Lyons seeks to reassure sex crime victims that they should not hesitate to report their experience to the police out of fear that they would be identified in press reports.  Newspapers protect victims’ privacy as a matter of policy, he says, and in any event police do not release their identities as a matter of law.

Few Details on Donations for Governor’s Suite     The Sacramento Bee reports that private donors have paid for Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s presidential suite at the Hyatt Regency Sacramento ever since he became governor in 2003, but his office has not documented the gifts for years.