Jeff Cambra: Here comes the sun
This Wednesday, March 24, Alameda residents will have a unique opportunity to participate in the first step of the process to develop a Sunshine Ordinance.
The word “sunshine” is a catchall term referring to open, transparent government. Included within its meaning are subjects like how public meetings are noticed, what documents and records are available to the public for viewing, and transparency in how the city does business both at the staff level and at the boards, commissions, and City Council level. It also includes campaign finance disclosures, lobbyist registration, and public official conduct and ethics.
While state law provides some governance in these areas, sunshine ordinances are local laws that go beyond the basic regulations.
Earlier this year, the City Council created a Sunshine Task Force at the request of Councilmember Lena Tam. The task force members were appointed by the City Council and charged with making “a recommendation to the council concerning any proposals and solutions regarding open government and access to information.” The task force members are Tom Charron, John Knox White, Gretchen Lipow, Jeff Mitchell, and Rob Wonder.
The first meeting will include a review of the list of areas the council would like the task force to consider and a presentation by the City Attorney’s Office on current provisions of the California Public Records Act and the Brown Act which addresses some sunshine issues. The task force invites residents to participate in the process by attending the meeting and adding their concerns to the present list. The meeting will be held in the Main Library located at the corner of Lincoln Avenue and Oak Street starting at 7 p.m. Wednesday.
For those residents who cannot attend the meeting, The Island has offered the comments section below to allow you to add your concerns to the list. Just type in your name and comment and press the “Submit Comment” button. All comments posted today will be included in the list developed tomorrow night.
This is an excellent opportunity to participate in a process that will give all residents greater access to public documents, better notice of meetings that are of concern to the public, and the ability to see how the city conducts business.
Jeff Cambra is the Sunshine Task Force’s facilitator.