By Anne Lowe

OPEN GOVERNMENT – A San Bernardino County supervisor has postponed presenting his proposed sunshine ordinance for a vote by his colleagues until he can remove remaining language that would cost him support.

The ordinance was scheduled to go to a vote this week but was held back so Supervisor Neal Derry, who has worked on the proposal for a year, could “reconsider language related to officials citing ‘deliberative process’ as a reason for withholding documents,” the San Bernardino Sun reported Monday.

Legal counsel for the county told Derry that the deliberative process exemption could not be completely eliminated, The Sun reports. The ordinance, once modified, will be heard at the next board meeting.This will not be first time the sunshine ordinance has been altered, as newspaper explains:

In his original Sunshine Ordinance draft, Derry had also proposed the formation of an ethics commission.

However, that proposal was dropped in April due to budgetary reasons.

Government watchdog group Californians Aware, or CalAware, was critical of the proposed draft released last week.

"It appears this is not a Sunshine Ordinance as normally understood: a set of local rules that expand access and participation beyond what is provided in the Brown Act and Public Records Act," said Terry Francke, CalAware's general counsel. "Instead, it appears to be simply a cut and paste of those provisions into a local ordinance—one that adds nothing that I can see to the existing law governing all local government."

Derry said the revisions were necessary to secure a majority vote on the board, and that elected officials could not be stripped of their right to cite the privilege when they felt it was necessary.

"This is a significant change in scope and direction from where the county has been. It puts the onus on the county to show why an exemption should exist," Derry said.