Legislators must be working for the people

Believing that the state of California is more trustworthy than the U.S. government is living in a fool's paradise.

But this is California and the populace goes along to get along, and pays no particular attention to the ins and outs of reality until it stands up and bites it in the butt.

It has been brought to my attention that young people have no problem with the NSA listening in and monitoring any and all communication and this action should be expected. Did these same young people expect the IRS to misuse private information?

No matter. There is a Constitution and the country is of the people, by the people and for the people, hence to allow any government to work in secret would be wrong. Hopefully, those elected representatives in Sacramento will realize that they work for the people of California.

Something to remember: Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.

D.C. Rentz

Walnut Creek

Don't put limits on Public Records Act

It is essential that we not limit the state's Public Records Act.

Transparency in government is like sunshine and water to our abundance of growing plants. We should be able to know in full what goes on in government, as we live in a democracy.

If some of the legislators are so concerned about the cost of this act, they could voluntarily cut back on their generous perks.

Evelyn Botti

El Sobrante

There's too much secrecy in Sacramento

I would not support any legislation that limits the ability to research public records.

This California administration operates under strict secrecy as it is. Budgets are delivered without the time to be read. Bills are introduced at midnight and voted on immediately. The Legislature is exempt from the Brown Act (open meetings law) that applies to all other state public offices.

Every year bills are introduced to force more openness: bills requiring 24 hours between the introduction of a bill and voting; bills requiring the budget to be published with sufficient time to allow comment before the vote; and others.

Each one of these bills stalls in committee and is never brought to the floor to be voted upon. The business of the state should be done in the open -- much more open than it is now.

Uninformed and disinterested voters have allowed our representatives in Sacramento to believe we are their subjects rather than realizing they are working for us. This is not the way our government is supposed to work.

David Pastor

Pleasanton

Transparency is the core of our system

Governmental transparency and accountability are the foundations of democracy. Public records must be accessible in the same format that government agencies use when making decisions. Concerned people need to search, sort and analyze governmental data in order to understand and challenge decisions.

A PDF-format picture of electronic records is not equivalent to the actual data in its database format. Public Records Act section 6253.9 says public agencies must provide their data to the public in the format that they hold it. Providing database-stored data to requesters costs nothing extra. Making Public Records Act requirements optional would subvert our democracy.

Bruce Joffe

Piedmont

We have right to know the state's business

Our elected and appointed government officials are paid by us to do the people's business.

We have a right to know how that business is being conducted. I see no room for argument on the topic.

Dave Newbry

Martinez

Open government is not too costly

In response to the practice of conducting the public business of government in backrooms and other secretive places, the citizens became outraged and demanded reform. The Legislature enacted a series of laws beginning with the Brown Act in 1953.

This law and several others followed, leading to the enactment of sunshine ordinances throughout the state. While failure to follow the law is a misdemeanor, critics complain that officials still find ways to skirt the law and that enforcement is lacking.

The Supreme Court of California stated in CBS v. Block: "Implicit in a democratic process is the notion that government should be accountable for its actions. In order to verify accountability, individuals must have access to government files. Such access permits checks against the arbitrary exercise of official power and secrecy in the political process."

The public trust is enhanced when political activities are open and transparent, and our elected officials are foolish to think this is too costly for them to fund. Currently, the Assembly is returning to mandating the law rather than allowing it to be voluntary; however, they still think it is costing millions.

I intend to ask my member of Congress to give me the exact amount our state spends each year on this item.

Anne Spanier

Alameda