OPEN GOVERNMENT — Residents in the City of Brea are about to be asked to approve a ballot measure enacting the first substantial sunshine ordinance in Southern California—and one with several transparency provisions that go well beyond any others in the state. 

The notice of intent to circulate the Brea Open Governance Act is to be published in the Orange County Register on June 3.  If passed by the voters, the measure would supplement the Brown Act and the California Public Records Act as they apply to the city with the following more demanding requirements:

Making and Responding to Public Records Requests

"California Public Records Act Requests shall now be accepted by phone and via electronic internet forms in addition to the current email, mail and over the counter options.
    "Each request shall be documented with the date of request, a brief summary of the request, the date the response was completed or the records were available, a field to identify that no records were available, the name of the requestor (when furnished), their email address (when furnished) and the staff member responsible for ensuring the request is processed.
    "All requests with an email address provided shall be sent a return email acknowledgement of the receipt within 24  hours after the email is received and read.  Reasonable effort shall be exerted to promptly complete requests or make documents available within 48 hours.

    "Responsive documents available in electronic format shall be made
available via email to the requestor at no charge or reproduced in paper form upon payment of reproduction costs plus
postage when applicable. Reproduction costs shall not exceed 150% of the
per page reproduction costs for campaign disclosures from the Orange
County Registrar of Voters.  Upon request, responsive documents of fewer
than 20 pages may be scanned and emailed at no charge to the requestor.

     "City Clerk shall publish in the annual budget document the number of
public records requests received during that  fiscal year, the number of requests where documents were available, the
number of requests where no documents were available in response to the
request, the number of requests completed (or records available) within:
24 hours, 5 days, 10 days and over 10 days.

     "City Clerk shall promptly report to council any improper hindrance
in the offering of public records.  Such hindrances include managerial direction to falsely indicate that
electronic records are unavailable or instructions to falsely respond to
a request indicating no documents are responsive when the Clerk has
knowledge of responsive documents."

Web Disclosure of Spending and Contracting

"Details such as vendor, amount, date, etc. of all new checks issued shall be published via the web and all new agreements/contracts with totals exceeding $5,000 shall be digitized, processed with optical character recognition and published via the internet. Prior active agreements/contracts with the city which exceed $5,000 shall be digitized in response to a public records request or as time is available and published via the internet as the electronic documents become available."

Ban on Gag Provisions in Settlements, Separation Agreements

"City shall forswear offering any inducement to any party to actual or potential litigation, or to any other agreement, or to any outgoing employee, to discourage him or her from discussing or revealing any information unless disclosure of that information is independently prohibited by state or federal law."

Open Performance Evaluations for City Manager

"No closed personnel sessions shall be held for review of the City Manager."

Open Session Approvals of Settlements and Other Binding Agreements

"To allow time for public comment no closed sessions shall be held for actions that contractually lock in commitments (i.e. proposed: legal settlements, real estate transactions and union agreements)."

Open Governance Act Oversight Committee

"A permanent volunteer citizen oversight committee shall be created from applicants who are not employees of the city, have never been employees of the city and do not have immediate family members employed by the city. Applications must be filed with the city clerk on or before the council meetings immediately following the election and subsequent committee vacancies.  At such time 3 or fewer applicants (depending on the number of applicants) will be randomly selected to serve a one  year term.  Their contact information shall be published on public records request forms and on the city’s website.  They shall serve as a review board for items in or relating to this initiative, periodically report to council on compliance and levy appropriate  fines for violation of items in or relating to this initiative against those who fail to comply."

Severability; Amendment Requires Voter  Approval

"If any provision of this measure or the application thereof to any person or circumstance is held invalid, that invalidity shall not affect other provisions or application, and to this end the provisions of this measure are severable. This initiative may not be amended except upon voter approval. "