Thursday, August 6, 2009

'California Public Records Act be damned'

The SF Weekly's Joe Eskenazi reports that lobbyists funded by the city of San Francisco pushed for a state law that carves out an exception in the California Public Records Act.

Assembly Bill 101 of 2007, sponsored by Assemblywoman Fiona Ma (right) and the city of SF, allows the city to keep confidential the pictures taken by forward-facing cameras on Muni vehicles that photographed those who parked in bus zones and such.

Normally such pictures would be public record. But they're not because of the efforts of Ma and SF lobbyists.

"Government employees double-park or block bus stops all the time — but if outside parties can't see the footage, who's to know?" Eskenazi writes.

As Eskenazi put it, "California Public Records Act be damned."

Among those alarmed is Terry Francke, general counsel for the open-government group CalAware.

"I think this is a very big deal," Francke told the SF Weekly.

But there is hope. The law that Fiona Ma and SF officials pushed through the Legislature contradicts the city's Sunshine Ordinance, which states:
    "Funds of the City and County of San Francisco ... shall not be used to support any lobbying efforts to restrict public access to records, information, or meetings."
BTW, Eskenazi reports that the ACLU said the Muni videos should be confidential.


Anonymous said...

As a constituent of Fiona Ma, I don't think this bill is terrible because allowing violators to be further punished by the media is a bad idea. Besides, Fiona is totally hot.

Anonymous said...

To Assemblywoman Ma: Seriously??? AB 101 from 2007 is BS and you had no business sponsoring/authoring it. Attacks like this against an already weakened state Public Records Act are wrong and you know it (or at least, you should know it.) Moreover, legislation like this just becomes a slippery slope over time. What else shouldn't the public have access to? Oh, I know, let's not let them look at your list of political contributors or the lunches you have with lobbyists. C'mon, act like a Democrat, do the right thing and work to make this thing go away.

Anonymous said...

The ACLU is for it...then everyone HAS to be for it. They do the thinking for us so we don't have to. Pass the fried chicken and hand me the TV remote.

Anonymous said...

Fiona Ma. Clueless again.