by Amanda Witherell
Despite the liberal signing spree that's left most of the Dems in the state giddy with success, the guv dropped his darkened Terminator-era specs over open government by vetoing Mark Leno's AB2927. The bill, which had unanimous approval from the House and Senate, would have improved online services for public records requests on all state agency websites, including a simple form to fill out and file electronically. It also would have allowed citizens with denied requests to appeal to the Attorney General for a review and written decision within 20 days. In a press release, Scwarzenegger said that task would be too burdensome for Lockyer's office, and that because the Attorney General already advises state agencies who may have denied the requests, it would be a conflict of interest.
Cal Aware lawyer and open government expert Terry Franke, pointed out that anyone who read the bill would see that the Attorney General would have the right to request a 30-day extension to the response time in the case of an "unmanageable workload." In addition, if the denial came from the Attorney General or the Department of Justice, members of the offices not involved with the original decision would be mandated to respond to the review. Also, attorney-client privilege would have trumped this bill, effectively dealing wtih the conflict of interest issue.
This bill really would have just simplified a process and added a layer of unbiased scrutiny to attempts to undermine the public's right to know.
This is the fourth time a bill of this sort has been vetoed. Stay tuned for round five...