There's an act of balance that has to occur."
Many task force members, activists, and citizens agree that the ordinance and task force are wonderful tools but still lack the necessary bite. The task force has no power to review documents and determine if a department's secrecy claims are true. And when a department is found in violation, there are no specific fines or penalties that the task force can levy.
But some are still happy the body even exists. "We have a great Sunshine Ordinance Task Force," said Michael Petrelis, who has been trying to find information about local AIDS nonprofits and advisory boards that are usually exempt from public records law unless they receive city funding. Petrelis found that avenue into these organizations, and when they don't comply with records requests it's still a boon for him, because filing a complaint requires them to come and be accountable in front of the task force, an open hearing that Petrelis can also attend. "I have learned so much at those meetings, just observing," Petrelis said. "The task force process is so valuable in all its beautiful permutations." *