Yesterday's op-ed page of the San Francisco Chronicle contained a fantastic column by Thomas Peele, a reporter, and Geoffrey King, a lawyer, who are co-chairs of the Society of Professional Journalists NorCal Freedom of Information Committee, about a few of the problems with our sunshine law and its implementation:
[O]ne of its most commonsense provisions, a citizen oversight panel that hears appeals and settles disputes, is now under attack by City Hall.
In a move that has confounded observers, city supervisors have repeatedly delayed appointments of qualified individuals to vacant seats on the Sunshine Ordinance Task Force, creating the impression that they resent having an independent watchdog that enforces the public's right to know. [...] >Bravo to the authors for such an excellent and concise piece, and to the paper for running it.
San Francisco is at a critical juncture: Open government is all the more important during times of rapid change. Meanwhile, the task force is languishing. It needs fixing. [...]
The supervisors who are dragging out the confirmation process are creating a perception of standing against transparency and a culture of openness in City Hall. Voters passed the Sunshine Ordinance 20 years ago because they did not want a recalcitrant and opaque local government. They deserve to know why supervisors are acting as if they have something to hide, and why they oppose honest, independent people in public service.
Today's meeting of the panel will consider several of my complaints filed in the past six months against various City Hall leaders and agencies. It would be great if I could tell you to tune in to the hearing on SF Gov TV, but unfortunately the Board of Supervisors and the Mayor have not allocated funding to air these meetings on cable TV or the web.
I'm quite pleased that my complaints will be considered and hope for a satisfying outcome on all of them. Here's the alert the panel's administrator sent out recently.
You are receiving this notice, because you are named as a Complainant or Respondent in one of the following complaints scheduled before the Sunshine Ordinance Task Force on June 4, 2014, at 4:00 p.m., Room 408, City Hall.
The agenda packet for the Sunshine Ordinance Task Force June 4, 2014, meeting is available online at the following link.
File No. 14006: Complaint filed by Michael Petrelis against the Members of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors and Mayor Edwin M. Lee’s Office (Mayor’s Office) for allegedly violating Sunshine Ordinance Sections 67.3, 67.4, 67.5 and 67.7 and California Government Code Sections 54952, 54952.2 and 54953 through violation of public meeting law by taking part in a policy body meeting that was closed to the public on December 16, 2013, between the Members of the Board of Supervisors, Unified School District, Mayor’s Office and SF.Citi.
File No. 14010: Complaint filed by Michael Petrelis against Charlotte Schultz and Matthew Goudeau, Mayor's Office, and Mayor Edwin M. Lee for allegedly violating the Sunshine Ordinance Sections 67.21 and 67.25 and California Government Code Sections 6253 and 6253.1 through failure to adequately respond to an Immediate Disclosure Request dated on December 26, 2013, and January 13, 2014.
File No. 14011: Complaint filed by Michael Petrelis against the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) for allegedly violating Sunshine Ordinance Sections 67.7, 67.15 and 67.17 by addressing topics during a public meeting that were not included in the meeting agenda, allowing presenters to speak who were not mentioned in the meeting agenda and presenting agenda items out of order on January 21, 2014, agenda.
File No. 14022: Complaint filed by Michael Petrelis against the San Francisco Host Committee and the Office of the City Administrator, as the city agency/department which is a party to and/or is the administrator of the nonprofit organization’s contract, for allegedly violating Administrative Code, Chapter 12L through failure of a nonprofit organization receiving more than $250,000 a year from the City and County of San Francisco to hold the required 2 meeting annually.