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Emerald Wants A Commitment To Open Government

Aired 7/19/12 on KPBS News.

A San Diego councilmember says the city needs to make a commitment to open government, even if the state won’t.

— Governments in California must follow a mandate known as the Brown Act. It requires public notice of meetings and public votes, among other things. But, in an effort to save money, the California legislature has suspended requirements that local governments post meeting agendas and report what was decided in closed sessions. The cost of those actions is generally reimbursed by the state.

San Diego Councilwoman Marti Emerald said the Brown Act is already a part of the council’s policies. But she wants to formalize its principles.

“I felt it was important because of the concern that’s been raised to reassure the public that, regardless of what happens with the state and its budget and its mandates,” she said, “that here in San Diego we do respect our open meetings laws and the people’s right to know what is being discussed.”

Emerald said the cost to publish the meeting agendas and report out of closed session is inconsequential. The council will consider the issue next week.

These sections of the Brown Act join an already lengthy list of suspended state mandates.

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