A bill that would put teeth into current open records laws has been unanimously approved by the state Senate and Assembly and an open government group, CalAware, is asking journalists to send letters to Gov. Schwartzenegger, urging him to sign AB2927. According to CalAware, the bill by Assemblyman Mark Leno (pictured), D-San Francisco, would:
- • allow citizens to request copies of a state agency’s public records by filling out a simple form on the agency’s Web site;
• allow those who are denied access to a record by any state or local agency to get a free and expedited “second opinion” from the Attorney General as to whether the denial was legally justified; and
• allow a court, in ordering an agency to release an unlawfully withheld record, to require it also to pay the requester a penalty of up to $100 per day for denying or delaying access in bad faith or with reckless disregard for the law.
“Anyone who’s ever been unsure about how to ask for information from the bureaucracy, or who’s been stiffed, stalled or stymied in getting access and answers, should put a letter or a postcard in the mail to the Governor urging his signature,” said Richard McKee, president of CalAware, which is sponsoring the bill.
CalAware is asking for letters because three previous bills approved by the legislature were vetoed by then-Gov. Gray Davis because of the Attorney General language.
E-mail doesn’t reach the governor, so those inclined to support AB2927 need to write an old fashioned letter and mail it to Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, State Capitol, Sacramento, CA 95814.