Fri. Jul 19th, 2024

By Donna Westfall – March 9, 2022

As we’ve witnessed with the local Citizen’s Oversight Committee (COC)on the $25 million school bond in Del Norte County, having government entities coughing up records requests with information, and accurate information at that, is not always honored. Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests are routinely squashed as are any board members who dare to ask questions.

Local communities put “Sunshine Laws” in place to promote ethical standards, prevent fraud and corruption, and by doing so engender greater public trust. Even though Sunshine Laws are already in place in California when government doesn’t want to respond, or wants to delay, they’ll find lots of excuses…legal or illegal. Thus one of the reasons for the Writ of Mandate suit due to be heard in Del Norte County Courthouse next Wednesday, March 18th at 10 am. It’s called operating illegally because the COC is supposed to operate independently and it’s been a rubber stamping group for the last 12 years. The current Chair, incompetent Steve Lyon, doesn’t even know what his responsibilities are. He may as well be on the School Board instead of the COC because he certainly is not looking out for the taxpayers in this County.

Starting Sunday, March 13th is Sunshine Week.

Sunshine Week is a non-partisan, non-profit national initiative begun in 2005 by the American Society of News Editors — now News Leaders Association — to promote a dialogue about the importance of open government and freedom of information. Society for Professional Journalists will be celebrating Sunshine Week with a webinar co-hosted by the National Press Club Journalism Institute at 12:30 p.m. EDT March 16. “Opening access: How to push back on restrictive communication policies in education (and beyond)” will include a discussion with expert panelists, Eva-Marie Ayala, Education Lab editor for The Dallas Morning News; Frank LoMonte, professor at the University of Florida and counsel at CNN; Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, AFL-CIO; and Delece Smith-Barrow, moderator and education editor at POLITICO.

From the First Amendment Coalition organization: Does “California have sunshine laws? Although state law—mainly in the form of the Brown Act and the Public Records Act—governs access rights at the local level, cities and counties are free to enact ordinances that provide greater right of access than state law. These local laws providing extra rights are often referred to as “Sunshine” laws.”

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