Bill Corrects UC Whistleblower Decision
Senator Leland Yee (D-San Francisco) reports that he has responded to a recent decision by the California Supreme Court by introducing legislation to provide University of California employees with the same whistleblower protections and legal standing as all other state employees.  The legislation, an amendment to SB 1199, is sponsored by Californians Aware. 

Bill Aids Local Government Whistleblowers
The San Francisco Chronicle reports that a bill allowing cities and counties to set up whistleblower hotlines and ensure confidentiality for employees who use them to report alleged fraud, waste and mismanagement has been approved by the California Legislature.

Open Government

Pitching Sunshine to the Next President
Californians Aware and 31 national open government organizations have drafted a memorandum to be presented to the transition team of the President-elect in November outlining priorities that should be addressed by the new administration, including:

  • a clear policy statement favoring disclosure of government records to the public;
  • a call to agencies to use technology to engage with and inform the public;
  • a commitment to creating a more collaborative and less adversarial relationship with the public on issues involving access to information; and 
  • an effort to transform the Freedom of Information Act process into one that serves the public.

Editorial Attacks E-mail Privacy Initiative
An editorial in the Irvine takes Irvine Councilman Larry Agran to task for his ballot initiative purporting to make e-mails sent to city hall exempt from disclosure as private information.  Agran cites the need to protect children, the writer says, but really wants to keep the city's e-mail address lists away from political rivals.

Public Information

County Posts Salaries—But Not Names
The Contra Costa Times reports that Contra Costa County has put the total salaries and benefits of more than 8,500 employees on its website, an online disclosure that may be the first detailed compensation posted by a government agency in the state. The list does not include employees' names.

Judge Faults City Attorney on Records
The San Diego Union-Tribune reports that a Superior Court judge has criticized San Diego City Attorney Michael Aguirre over his office's reluctance to release documents under the California Public Records Act, and has ordered him to justify with more specificity the withholding of  records requested by a local attorney last fall, seeking phone records and other communications in the hopes of helping a State Bar of California investigation of Aguirre's conduct while in office.

Public Records Disclosed Reveal . . .  

  • that Carolyn Smith, recent president of San Diego’s Southeastern Economic Development Corporation, signed off on her own bonus pay, to the tune of at least $71,928 in the past two fiscal years, reports the San Diego Union-Tribune, and also, as the newspaper reports, that she tipped generously when dining out on the agency’s expense account.
  • that aides to San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders had serious misgivings about his urging the City Council to approve transferring the city's Family Justice Center to the YWCA, whose executive director is the former city attorney, reports the San Diego Union-Tribune.
  • that according to a report by Judicial Watch, an illegal alien arrested on suspicion of committing a June 22 triple murder, is identified by the San Francisco Police Department as “an active member of the MS-13 street gang,” and as having a recent (March 30) arrest related to weapons and gang charges. That arrest ended in a release without charges and, because of a city ordinance that prohibits local officials from cooperating with federal officials in deporting illegal aliens, without notifying federal immigration authorities.

Free Speech

Bill Makes Cyber-bullying a School Offense notes that cyber-bullying among kids is an unfortunate reality, and a bill that the California Legislature just sent to the Governor could give schools power to take action against students who use online harassment to make school life miserable for their peers.

High Court Agrees to Take Krishnas/LAX Case
The Metropolitan News-Enterprise in Los Angeles reports that the California Supreme Court has agreed to decide whether Los Angeles International Airport is a public forum under the “liberty of speech clause” of the California Constitution and if so, whether a city ordinance prohibiting anyone from soliciting funds in LAX's terminals and parking areas or on its sidewalks violates the California Constitution. The Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals referred those issues to the state court, saying it would resolve an appeal in the long-running litigation between the Hare Krishna movement and city officials.

Plastic Surgeon’s Plea for Gag Order Denied
OC Weekly reports that  a plastic surgeon who practiced most recently in Huntington Beach and who is about to go on trial with the Medical Board of California for violating the terms of the board’s alcohol-abuse treatment program, has failed to get a restraining order against a former patient’s use of the Internet to attack his reputation.

Court: VA Hospitals Can Ban Voter Signups
The San Jose Mercury News reports that a federal appeals court has upheld a Veterans Administration policy barring voter registration drives inside its hospitals, concluding the rule does not violate the First Amendment. And Veterans for Common Sense charges that the Bush Administration is deliberately working to disenfranchise injured and homeless veterans in the approach to the November election.

New Law Narrows What Candidates Can Say
Contra Costa Times columnist Linda Vorderbrueggen reports that the content of a candidate statement — the one published in the ballot pamphlet you receive from the election office — is limited to a recitation of the candidate's qualifications and personal background and cannot refer to other candidates, a rule she calls “outrageous.” Before July 2007, the restriction applied only to candidates for judgeships.

Free Press

Mayor Wants Cameras Tracking Cameramen
The Malibu Times reports that in an effort to address the escalating celebrity photoswarm conflict in Malibu, Mayor Pamela Conley Ulich has suggested placing cameras in certain areas to record possible high-speed paparazzi chases and harassment of residents. Meanwhile, reports the Malibu Surfside News, other cities in the region are also studying paparazzi regulations.

Garden Grove Teacher is Bill’s Poster Child
The Orange County Register reports that while bad cafeteria food, subpar bathrooms and unavailable teachers sound like typical student complaints, student newspaper editorials voicing such concerns cost Janet Ewell her role as journalism adviser at Rancho Alamitos High School, and prompted her to work for legislation, now about to go to the Governor, that would spare other journalism advisors her fate.

Study: Military Courts Nearly Invisible to Public
The public has a slim chance of discovering the existence of criminal hearings and trials conducted by U.S. armed forces around the world, according to a yearlong study of military justice practices by the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press.

Open Meetings

Fired Coach Sues on Denial of Open Session
The Contra Costa Times reports that two months after being fired in the aftermath of a complaint by a player's parents, a former girls basketball coach has sued the Acalanes Union High School District and its school board for the trustees’ alleged failure to provide him the opportunity to confront accusations against him in an open session.

Agency Faces Suit over Its CEO’s Termination
The San Diego Union-Tribune reports that a redevelopment activist plans to sue the Southeastern Economic Development Corp., saying that the SEDC Board violated the Brown Act in recently firing its president, Carolyn Smith. She was given 90 days notice and will receive $100,350 severance, but SEDC has never explained how that number was calculated.

School Trustee Admits Closed Session Leak
The Santa Cruz Sentinel reports that a Scotts Valley school board member has publicly apologized to fellow trustees for violating a state law protecting confidential information. At the end of a recent board meeting, Jondi Gumz divulged that she "inadvertently shared information from a closed session," but did not cite specifics. Gumz is a Sentinel reporter who has covered education issues, but now writes about business and health care.

Plant Expansion Closed Discussion Assailed
The San Diego Union-Tribune reports that environmental health organizers are accusing the Chula Vista City Council of an “underhanded backdoor deal” and “selling out” the public's health for money after the council held a closed meeting to discuss a power-plant expansion.