Local Whistleblower Programs Faulted as Failures

In San Francisco, no data exist on whether the city controller's whistleblower protection program for municipal employees works, reports Dan Noyes for KGO-TV.  In San Diego, a civic activist has had to sue to determine how the city auditor has performed in investigating and closing complaints from a whistleblower hotline, with a first hearing held on May 6 and a second set for next month. And in Sonoma County, the grand jury has concluded that owing to the very multiplicity of local programs operating without coordination, "for those trying to expose waste, fraud and abuse in government, the path can be torturous. Whistleblowers must contact one agency after another, and in the process, they can lose both their anonymity and faith in any follow-up," reports Brett Wilkison in the Santa Rosa Press Democrat.

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Judge to City: Release Consultant's Aging 'Draft'

A judge's order means that the City of Encinitas must release to a civic watchdog a $2.8 million consultant's  study of street repair needs submitted in March of last year but made available to the public in 'final' form only last September.  The city had argued that disclosing the original draft of the report would make the staff's job of analyzing and polishing such reports too difficult.

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Local Agency Sunshine Bills Avoid Fiscal Limbo

The fate of an appropriations committee's "suspense file," where legislative bills go to die because they're judged too costly, was avoided this week by two key Senate measures—one to allow voters to insulate the Brown Act from a  frequent threat of unenforceability, and another to require local agencies with websites to post local officials' expense reimbursements and all local agencies to disclose a wide variety of compensation data.

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Court Denies Speech Defense of Grisly Photo Leak

The California Court of Appeal has held that a former Highway Patrol dispatch supervisor cannot argue a First Amendment defense in a lawsuit brought by the family of a teenager gruesomely mangled in a fatal auto crash, vivid photos of which he circulated by e-mail and which ended up on the Internet and were sent to the family with mocking messages. Defendant Aaron Reich, one of two dispatchers responsible for the leaked images, said he forwarded them as cautionary examples of the risks of drunken driving, reports Greg Hardesty in the Orange County Register.

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Government Websites Purging Embarrassing Facts

San Diego County's Civil Service Commission has abandoned its practice of posting its agendas, minutes and audio files on its website.  The reason: To provide some privacy to county employees who have appeared before the commission on a rules violation or to pursue a discrimination complaint. And as San Diego City Beat reports, the Fair Political Practices Commission's new chair has stripped its website of information on opened  investigations, solicitous for politicians' and other political operatives' reputations.

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Bill Brings Sunshine to Campus Foundations

Responding to Senator Leland Yee's amendments to his latest higher education sunshine bill, California college and university foundations and other "auxiliary organizations" have agreed to abide by transparency rules comparable to the California Public Records Act in return for keeping their donors' names confidential—except in certain circumstances.

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