Open Government

Bill: Secret Changes to Executive Orders
Steven Aftergood of the federal agency watchdog site Secrecy News reports that the President would no longer be able to secretly modify or revoke a published executive order if a new bill introduced in the Senate last week becomes law. The Justice Department, in an unreleased opinion, says there is no law now preventing presidents from quietly changing or abandoning published orders.

Public Information

Supervisors Still Mum on Hospital Staff
The Los Angeles Times reports that Los Angeles County supervisors continued last week to refuse to release details about 17 employees who worked at Martin Luther King Jr.-Harbor Hospital despite having serious criminal histories or lying about their records.

Public Records Disclosed Reveal . . .

  • that just before retiring in early May, the former Redding Convention Center and Visitors Bureau manager was investigated for cussing out his employees and for excessive drinking during after-hours events, according to a report in the Redding Record Searchlight.
  • the objections that San Diego County employees raised as they sought to opt out of performing gay marriages prior to the unions’ becoming legal June 17, as reported in the San Diego Union-Tribune.

Free Speech

Top Schools Insist on Freedom of Research
The San Jose Mercury News reports that, caught between the demands of academic freedom and national security in a post-Sept. 11 world, the Bay Area's two major research universities are walking away from lucrative research contracts rather than consenting to intrusive restrictions on their work.

Indictment of MySpace Cyberbully Faulted
Jon Healey reports in the Los Angeles Times Opinion L.A. blog that three consumer advocacy groups and 14 law professors have urged a federal judge in Los Angeles not to let federal prosecutors pursue an indictment of the Missouri woman whose online prank caused a 13-year-old acquaintance of her daughter to hang herself in 2006, unable to cope with the verbal abuse suddenly heaped upon her by a supposed friend on MySpace.

Free Press

Governor Gets Student Press Advisors Bill
The San Francisco Chronicle reports that the state Senate has sent Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger legislation prohibiting administrators from retaliating against high school and college journalism teachers when their students publish stories or comments offensive to the officials but protected by law.

LAPD Chief Cool on Proposed ‘Britney Law’ reports that the sponsor of a proposal to rein in aggressive celebrity photographers is meeting resistance from Los Angeles Police Chief William Bratton, who argues that it would be difficult to enforce and that existing laws can keep unruly packs of photographers in check.

State Lawmakers All Back Federal Shield Law
California reports that the California State Legislature last month unanimously passed a resolution calling on the Congress to enact a shield law to protect journalists from having to reveal confidential sources to federal grand juries or face jail terms for contempt.