Monday, June 17, 2013

Politicians Gutting the Public's Right to Know

Government runs on computer.   Where's the money, how is it spent, what does every contract, every invoice show, how much is every employee paid, who is getting bonuses, how much overtime is there, how many "emergency requisitions" are there and for what?   It's all on a government database somewhere.

California politicians want to reduce oversight and increase the likelihood for waste and fraud. They are planning significant changes to the state's public records law.  As the Mercury News reports, "Language inserted into a budget bill on Wednesday would allow local governments to turn down requests for records without citing a legal reason. It would no longer require government officials to respond to to records requests within 10 days or force them to help the public by describing what records exist."

One proposed change to the State's public records law truly says F#@* YOU to the citizens of California.   It states the public agency does NOT have to provide electronic records in electronic format.  Any database has the ability to export data in a variety of formats.   It's fast.  It's cheap.   Most importantly, it makes analysis immeasurably easier than having to wade through through thousands of paper records.

With this change, instead of providing an electronic file the public agency could provide thousands of printed pages.   It will cost more, take more time, and make any analysis far more difficult.  

As expected, those sponsoring the changes did not respond to the Mercury News' phone calls or emails asking for an explanation.   Every day in the paper and on its website, the Mercury News should be sure to post the pictures of the politicians sponsoring these changes along with a reminder that these are the politicians who want less oversight and more fraud and waste.





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