In light of Sunshine Week 2012, South Pasadena Patch wants to converse and educate our town on the importance of open government.
The goal of Sunshine Week is to promote a dialogue about open government and freedom of information. Participants include news media, civic groups, libraries, nonprofits, schools and others interested in government transparency.
In California, there are two acts that provide open access to public meetings, The Brown Act and The Bagley-Keene Open Meeting Act. We also have the California Public Records Act that gives citizens access to all kinds of public information that is useful to communities.
You may recall the South Pasadena City Council for violating The Brown Act after a complaint was filed by a local resident in August 2010.
The complaint , which led some to question whether the decision was improperly made behind closed doors.
"Although the Brown Act allows for closed sessions in specific, narrowly drawn exceptions, there is a presumption in favor of public access," the Public Integrity Division told Patch at the time of the investigation.
“We do not make any factual findings with regard to the alleged conduct because there is no independent source of evidence of the subject matter of the closed session discussions involved.”
“However, the circumstances we reviewed provide a sufficiently reasonable concern as is explained below,” she continued.
There have been other issues, as well, where South Pas residents have cited a lack of transparency in local government: the driving range extension debacle, the Fair Oaks Corridor Improvement Project and, most recently,
Nevertheless, South Pas local government has taken strides recently to open up the lines of communication. Just Tuesday night, And in January, it began streaming all City Council meetings online, hosting a 6-month archive on its site.
So today, Patch asks: How would you rate your local government's openness to public access: Excellent, Avererge or Poor? What does your local government do well? Where do you feel there is room for improvement? What suggestions do you have for things to run differently?
Take our Patch poll, and weigh in in comments!
This year Sunshine Week is co-sponsored by ASNE and the Reporters Committee For Freedom of the Press and many other media industry partners, including Patch. The week is funded by a grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation of Miami, along with the ASNE Foundation, the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press and others.