Watchog May Settle for Ethics Panel's Data

PUBLIC INFORMATION — Open Government
advocate Allen Grossman may dismiss his lawsuit against the San Francisco Ethics
Commission and its Executive Director, John St. Croix, if they provide him
with all withheld public records about the Commission's dismissal of 14 complaints referred from the city's Sunshine Ordinance Task Force.

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The First Amendment Right to Heckle Speakers

FREE SPEECH — It's claimed in some quarters that the students who recently orchestrated a serial shout-down of a speech at U.C. Irvine by the Israeli ambassador to the U.S. were exercising their First Amendment right to protest.  The California Supreme Court has held that there can be in effect a constitutional right to heckle, but not where it intentionally brings a meeting to a standstill and violates standing rules or customs, known by the audience, for gatherings of the type in question. 

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How to Tell When an Idea Has Come of Age

OPEN GOVERNMENT — Last fall Governor Schwarzenegger, a Republican, vetoed a bill that would have required state agencies to post most of their contracts for services on an Internet website in a searchable database. AB
756 was sought by a government worker bargaining unit, the Service
Employees International Union local for Sacramento, and also the
Professional Engineers in California Government, who argued that the
state was wasting money by outsourcing computer maintenance and
consulting contracts.
Now David Cameron, head of the UK's Conservative Party and candidate for Prime Minister, is reportedly vowing that if elected he will next year begin "publishing" details of all government contracts worth more than £25,000—to help pinpoint waste.

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Would Your Local Officials Get away with This?

OPEN MEETINGS — It turns out that a majority of the California Assembly, and a near majority of the Senate, did attend a closed-door luncheon hosted by Governor Schwarzenegger on January 6, after the State of the State speech, as reported by Steve Wiegand in the Sacramento, Modesto and Fresno Bees. The Assembly leadership was expressly warned by the Legislative Counsel that the gathering could not be closed to the public if public business was to be discussed, but the Governor's invitation was promising the airing of some exciting new ideas for state government. You can check this partial list of those who showed up—and ask your representative why he or she went, if that's the case, and what was said by whom.