CALAWARE

CAJON VALLEY AGREES TO COMPLY WITH BROWN ACT ON MEETING RECORDINGS, BUT DRAGS FEET ON OTHER RECORDS REQUESTS

By Miriam Raftery

Listen to audios of CVUSD meetings from Dec.-March (scroll down)

Photos: unobtrusive recording device on tripod used by ECM reporter at two recent meetings does not obstruct views or traffic.

June 6, 2019 (El Cajon) – It took cease and desist letters sent by two attorneys to the Cajon Valley Union School District for ECM to obtain recordings of public meetings previously denied, along with assurances that our reporters will not be threatened for recording those meetings ourselves. But other important records requests remain pending beyond the time frames mandated by state law.  

More than five months after our initial Public Records Act request for tapes of public meetings, the Cajon Valley Union School District has turned over all but one recording from December 2018 through March 2019.  Miraculously, those include a Dec. 11, 2018 recording that the district previously informed ECM had been destroyed. The one missing audio file, for March 12, 2019, was not available to a technical difficulty, the district claims in a letter sent to Californians Aware attorney Terry Francke.  

The records were provided to Francke after the attorney notified the district that its refusal to provide copies of recordings violated the Ralph M. Brown Act (California’s public records act) to ECM reporter Paul Kruze and to board member Jill Barto.  The district’s purported destruction of the December recording after 30 days despite a records request made just one day after the meeting, as claimed by executive assistant Naomie Rodriguez, was also illegal, Francke informed the district.

The district sent its recordings only to Francke, with a short window to download copies, but never did provide copies directly to either Kruze or Barto, both have confirmed. Barto says the district has refused to provide CDs for any meeting prior to May, and that they told her they won’t provide CDs unless a request is made within 30 days of a meeting – backtracking off their vote in  late March to retain recordings for a year and make them available on CD, as ECM reported.

Audio: 

CAJON VALLEY SENDS RESPONSE TO CALAWARE, ADDS OPEN GOVERNMENT ACTION TO APRIL 30 AGENDA

 

 

By Miriam Raftery 

April 2, 2019 (El Cajon)  Cajon Valley Union School District’s board president Tamara Otero has sent a formal response letter to Californians Aware (CalAware) agreeing to comply with demands in a legal cease and desist order that the watchdog organization had sent the district on East County Magazine’s behalf. The board’s April 30, 2019 meeting will include the compliance issue on the agenda, the letter added.  

CAJON VALLEY SCHOOL BOARD AMENDS POLICY ON ACCESS TO RECORDINGS OF PUBLIC MEETINGS—AFTER LEGAL DEMAND ON ECM’S BEHALF

CalAware warns district after CVUSD destroys requested school board meeting recordings

By Paul Kruze, Contributing Editor

Updated with CVUSD letter to CalAware)

March 28, 2019  (El Cajon) -- The Cajon Valley Union School District Board of Trustees voted 3-2 on Tuesday to change its policy on board meeting audio recordings. The action came after the district received a legal warning letter from Californians Aware (CalAware) regarding the district’s destruction of recordings from the Dec. and Nov. public meetings requested in a California Public Records Act request by East County Magazine in December.

Instead of destroying audio of board meetings after 30 days, the district will now keep them for one year and will make them available to the public on request on compact disc (CD). The measure, spearheaded by board trustee Jill Barto, was affirmed by Barto along with trustees Karen Clark-Meija and Jim Miller. Cajon Valley Union School District (CVUSD) trustees President Tamara Otero and Jo Alegria voted “no” on the new policy.

The letter addressed to Otero accused the CVUSD of violating multiple sections of the California Government Code relating to its refusal to permit inspection and copying of audiotape recordings made by the District of open and public meetings. The government act violated is more commonly known as the “Ralph M. Brown Act” which legally obligates government agencies and bodies to abide by specific rules regarding open meetings and access to public documents.

Audio: 

SAN MIGUEL FIRE VOTES TO OPEN FINANCE COMMITTEE TO PUBLIC, PRESS

East County News Service

February 26, 2015 (Spring Valley) – As a result of an East County Magazine (ECM) inquiry, San Miguel Fire District’s Board voted this week to make its finance committee a permanent standing committee, which means that the committee’s meetings will now be open to the press and public.

Previously, the finance committee was deemed an ad-hoc committee by the district, which argued that it did not need to allow public access.  ECM contacted Californians Aware (CALAWARE), an organization that protects public access under Califoirnia’s sunshine laws.

GROSSMONT BOARD RESOLVES TO RESTRICT MEMBERS’ RIGHTS; LEAVES QUESTION OF ALPINE HIGH SCHOOL UNANSWERED

 

By Sharon Penny

February 15, 2014 (El Cajon)--At the February 13 Grossmont Union High School District  (GUHSD) meeting, the Governing Board provided some recent positive outcomes in the district (see side story: Grossmont District Schools Shine Academically), but took a step back for democracy.

By a vote of 4-1, the Board adopted a resolution: “In Recognition of the Citizens’ Board Oversight Committee (CBOC) and Their Service to the Grossmont Union High School District.”  It  praises the District’s bond oversight committee-- but also aims to muzzle school board members from giving testimony to the oversight comittee.

GUHSD RESOLUTION TO MUZZLE MEMBERS FROM ADDRESSING OVERSIGHT COMMITTEE IS “NOT ENFORCEABLE,” LEGAL EXPERT SAYS

 

 

District seeks to muzzle whisteblower Priscilla Schreiber (photo, left)

By Miriam Raftery

February 8, 2014 (San Diego’s East County) – Last week, Grossmont Union High School District (GUHSD) trustee Priscilla Schreiber testified before the Citizens Bond Oversight Committee (CBOC) to urge examination of a Grand Jury report and other evidence, as ECM reported.   In response, the District’s board has proposed a resolution to prohibit its trustees from speaking to the Oversight Committee unless specifically invited to do so by the chair or a majority of committee members.  The items is on the agenda on February 13.

ECM asked general counsel Terry Francke at Californians Aware (a nonprofit that works to protect open government), if this resolution was legal or not.  “It's legally unenforceable," he responded via e-mail. "School trustees have the same First Amendment, Brown Act and Public Records Act rights as anyone else to attend meetings of a bond oversight board and obtain any documents that pertain to or result from its work.”

EDITORIAL: PUBLIC RECORDS ACT GUTTED IN STATE BUDGET—ASK GOVERNOR TO RESTORE YOUR RIGHTS

 

 

Update June 20, 2013 4 p.m. -- The Sacramento Bee reports that due to mounting public pressure, the Governor will abandon efforts to weaken the Public Records Act.  The Bee also reports that Democrats plan to push for a state Constitutional amendment to assure public access to government documents and require local agencies to pay the costs, thwarting efforts by local governments that have sought reimbursement from the state for costs of complying with the decades-old law.

 

“The liberties of a people never were, nor ever will be, secure when the transactions of their rulers may be concealed from them.”

By Miriam Raftery, Editor, East County Magazine

June 20, 2012 (San Diego’s East County) – A budget now on the Governor’s desk would gut the California Public Records Act, eliminating your right to access  public records.  Donna Frye, president of Californians Aware (CalAware), warns, “This is where we are today, facing a Public Records Act wipe-out unless Governor Brown vetoes that portion of the budget trailer bills and restores all the provisions currently in place.”

CalAware, a watchdog group dedicated to protecting open government, urges  citizens to call the Governor today at (916)445-2841 and ask the following:

DONNA FRYE RESIGNS AS CITY'S OPEN GOVERNMENT DIRECTOR TO BECOME PRESIDENT OF CALAWARE

 

 

Story and photo by Miriam Raftery

April 7, 2013 (San Diego)—Donna Frye, appointed by Mayor Bob Filner to serve as Director of Open Government, has announced her resignation in order to accept the presidency of Californians Aware, a nonprofit organization advocating for open government.

Frye will serve as a volunteer in the position, losing a potential salary of $100,000 a year had she stayed with the City of San Diego.  The resignation took effect immediately.

SOCIETY OF PROFESSIONAL JOURNALISTS TO HONOR FIRST AMENDMENT FIGHTER TERRY FRANCKE OF CALAWARE ON MARCH 27 IN SAN DIEGO

Terry Francke

March 20, 2013 (San Diego) – The Society of Professional Journalists will honor Terry Francke of Californians Aware (CalAware) with SPJ’s Sunshine Award for his efforts over many years. The  award will be presented on March 27 at 6:30 at the 501 West Broadway office of Sheppard Mullin on the buildings 19th floor.

Francke, currently general counsel for Californians Aware, has a 31-year history of helping journalists, citizens and public officials understand and use their First Amendment and open government rights.

CALAWARE LAUNCHES PETITION TO PROTECT OPEN GOVERNMENT, BROWN ACT REQUIREMENTS

 

 

July 25, 2012 (Sacramento) – As ECM has reported, the state has suspended Brown Act provisions  that previously required public boards to notify the public about agenda items at least 72 hours before meetings. 

Now Californians Aware, a watchdog group that protects citizens’ right to open government, has created an online petition with Change.org to “Free the Brown Act from Budget Suspense.” You can urge Assembly speaker to support a constitutional amendment that would restore open government rights for the people by signing the petition here.

CALAWARE SUES SAN DIEGO BOARD OF SUPERVISORS FOR SURPRISE ACTIONS

Supervisors accused of approving items not on agenda regarding cutting red tape for development projects

By Terry Francke, General Counsel, Californians Aware

January 20, 2012 (San Diego)--Californians Aware has filed suit against the San Diego County Board of Supervisors, challenging its decision at a meeting last month as a violation of the Ralph M. Brown Act, the state’s open meeting law for local government.

The petition, filed today in San Diego County Superior Court, cites the Board’s immediate approval of a slate of recommendations from an advisory committee on cutting red tape in development approvals.

STATE AGENCIES FAIL TO MAKE THE GRADE IN CALAWARE’S THIRD PUBLIC RECORDS AUDIT

 

March 23, 2011 (Carmichael, California)– For the third time in five years, Californians Aware (CalAware) has tested state agencies’ responses to very basic requests for public records. Analysis of the results found no measureable improvement overall-with agencies overall averaging a C+--and many flunking requirements of California’s open government laws.

 

“What, if anything, will Governor Brown do to make further improvements?” asks Emily Francke, executive director of CalAware.

CALAWARE SUES, CLAIMS OVERCHARGES ON PUBLIC RECORDS COPIES


Watchdog group says state law does not allow charges above 10 cents a page

December 13, 2010 (Martinez, California)– In a case that could have wide repercussions for members of the public and media outlets seeking public records from public agencies in California,, today Californians Aware (CalAware) filed a lawsuit in superior court, seeking an order to bar Contra Costa Community College District from continuing to violate the California Public Records Act (CPRA).

 

The district has been charging fees for copies of district records that are substantially above the "direct cost of duplication"--the maximum allowed by law, said CalAware general counsel Terry Francke.

WATCHDOG GROUP CALAWARE SENDS WARNING TO LOCAL GOVERNMENTS; THREATENS LAWSUITS TO ASSURE BROWN ACT `STRICT ENFORCEMENT’’

 

By Miriam Raftery

December 4, 2010 (San Diego’s East County) – Californians Aware (CalAware), the nonprofit center for public forum rights, has advised state associations representing most local government agencies that their members may be subject to short notice lawsuits for common violations of California’s open meeting law, the Brown Act.