Latest News Articles From The San Ramon Tribune

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

The California Brown Act

The following article was sent to San Ramon by Ben Franklin

Permission was granted by Ben Franklin to reprint it here on San Ramon News in its entirety.

Is Republicanism Dead In The United States?

Republicanism is the value system that built the United States of America

Since the early days of our country and the American Revolution, the idea of liberty and rights as central values, where the people are more important than the political powers in force was the foundation for what the founding fathers fought for from the beginning.

However, there seems to be a forgetfulness on the part of most people today to stand up for what is right, and to gloss over how in the name of "doing the people's work" politicians, political leaders, and our elected officials seem to forget who they report to.

The California Brown Act has been circumvented in more ways than one today. It is quite apparent from local issues that information is being discussed behind closed doors, out of the eyes and ears of the people. This is not good.

Our elected officials that fall into this trap, of allowing themselves to discuss issues before they are officially placed on the table, can open themselves up to so many things that might seem good on the surface, but underneath are fraught with unforeseen land mines. When discussing issues behind closed doors, they can easily be swayed to accept a plan by a developer offering the world, when in fact the developer only has their own best interest at heart and probably has not considered all the unintended consequences from the "Peoples" standpoint. The elected officials that choose to discuss business this way are not hearing all the pros and cons of a proposal when meeting in a way that circumvents the Brown Act.

Typically, elected officials are not held to task on these issues. Even some of the City Attorneys are guilty of not holding to the intent of the law, and look for ways around having to follow the law.

The Brown Act

The Brown Act, originally a 686 word statute that has grown substantially over the years, was enacted in response to mounting public concerns over informal, undisclosed meetings held by local elected officials which were not in compliance with requirements for advance public notice; instead, they were skirting laws by holding secret 'workshops' and 'study sessions'. The Brown Act solely applies to California city and county government agencies, boards, and councils, whereas the comparable Bagley-Keane Act mandates open meetings for State government agencies. Source Wikipedia: Brown Act.

The Law

"In enacting this chapter, the Legislature finds and declares that the public commissions, boards and councils and the other public agencies in this State exist to aid in the conduct of the people's business. It is the intent of the law that their actions be taken openly and that their deliberations be conducted openly.

"The people of this State do not yield their sovereignty to the agencies which serve them. The people, in delegating authority, do not give their public servants the right to decide what is good for the people to know and what is not good for them to know. The people insist on remaining informed so that they may retain control over the instruments they have created."

Listen up folks, pay attention to what is going on in your community today.

Ben Franklin

Thanks Ben for your article. By the way, if anyone else would like to have their article considered for posting on San Ramon News, send us an email today for consideration. If you would like it posted with or without your name, let us know in your email. Note, not all articles are accepted. Read the San Ramon News Introduction.


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