City of Brea Open Governance Act, Measure U (November 2012)
Measure U would have:
- Established deadlines for City responses to certain records requests made under the Public Records Act on an accelerated timeline. Specifically, each such request and response would be required to be acknowledged by email within one business day. A reasonable effort would be required to be made to make documents available within two business days. This is more rapidly than is required by state law which grants ten days for the initial response to a request.
- Required that information concerning issued checks and certain contracts to be published on the Internet.
- Required that certain inactive contracts would be required to be made available in electronic form upon request or as time is available.
- Provided that responsive documents in electronic form be made available via email at no charge, or in paper form upon payment of the reproduction costs, plus postage, up to a stated limit.
- Required that specific records request information be published in the City’s budget document.
- Required the city clerk to report any improper hindrance to responses to records requests.
- Established that actions of improperly hindering records requests be deemed punishable as misdemeanors.
- Prohibited the city from offering inducements to discourage certain persons or parties from discussing or revealing information not otherwise prohibited from disclosure.
- Modified provisions of the Open Meeting Law by prohibiting discussion of city manager goals or performance in closed session.
- Required that public discussion must be allowed prior to the Council taking a final vote on a proposed settlement discussed in closed session.
- Required that city audio-visual equipment be made available for use of meeting attendees.
- Required City Council Study Sessions to be recorded for internet publication.
- Prohibited any City official from interrupting or censoring any speaker during the "Matters from the Audience" segment of council meetings.
- Prohibited any general tax increase ballot measure from specifying specific purposes.
- Created a 3-person commission, comprised of persons who have never been, and whose immediate family members have never been, city employees. This commission would periodically report to the City Council concerning compliance with the overall provisions of Measure U. It would have the authority to impose fines for noncompliance.
A simple majority vote was required for approval.
- Final official results from the Orange County elections office.
The official voter guide arguments in favor of Measure U were submitted by:
- Keith Fullington, Brea Resident
- Terry Franke, General Counsel, Californians Aware: the Center for Public Forum Rights
- Desare Ferraro, Founder/Leader, North Orange County Conservative Coalition
- Connie Lanzisera, Leader, North Orange County Conservative Coalition
- Paul Ruiz, President, California Republican Assembly (Brea)
Arguments in favor
Arguments presented in favor of Measure U in the official voter guide included:
- "Access to information concerning the conduct of the people's business is a fundamental and necessary right of every person in this state."
- "Closed doors and closed government always lead to corruption!"
- "Many Brea residents (the author included) have experienced longstanding City of Brea record request practices first hand. Those practices include:delaying, ignoring requests and/or city staff providing only the bare minimum help (if any) to identify and access local Brea public records as required by law."
- "This measure seeks to expedite Brea City Clerk responses to public record requests. A further goal is to make it easier for residents to obtain information regarding local government operations. Last year the city purchased a computer package to publish public records to the internet for citizen search and retrieval (as required in the measure. Thus additional expense should not be incurred!)."
- "In Fullerton, it took 20 minutes to obtain the City Manager’s agreement at no cost via email. In Brea it took days for the city to respond by written letter that the documents were available upon payment of $1.40 to cover reproduction costs (the costs of writing a letter and postage are ridiculous and a delaying tactic)."
- "Even if you’re not a political watchdog, this measure helps others keep an eye on your city government for you! A YES vote on this measure will provide more staff accountability at negligible cost."
The arguments against Measure U in the official voter guide were submitted by:
- Don Schweitzer, Mayor of Brea
- Brett Murdock, Mayor Pro Tempore of Brea
The Orange County Register editorialized against Measure U, saying, "Measure U promises to 'improve transparency in local government.' But it's hard to see how the proposed city ordinance will deliver more transparency than the combination of three state laws – the Brown Act, the California Public Records Act and the Sunshine Amendment."
The arguments made against Measure U in the official voter guide included:
- "The City of Brea prides itself on open and transparent government and has always exceeded the requirements of the Brown Act and the California Public Records Act."
- "All council meetings are held in open forums; community members are always given the chance to address the city council."
- "All agendas are posted and published on the Internet at least 72 hours before each council meeting (24 hours for special meetings)"
- "All regular city council meetings held in the council chambers are video-recorded and available on the city website."
- "All public records requests are promptly addressed in strict compliance with state law."
- "Why then do we need this measure? The answer is we don’t!"
- "This measure subjects Brea to different requirements than those applied to every other City in the State of California and would require Brea taxpayers to pay even higher costs for Public Information Requests."
- "This measure would not allow the city council to stop speakers from the use of profanity or any other abusive language during city council meetings. This measure creates a randomly chosen 3-person committee with the power to levy fines on city employees who allegedly do not comply with the measure."
- "This measure also prevents the elected City Council from meeting in closed session with the City Attorney to conclude and approve terms of purchasing property or on terms in employee union labor agreements. This item alone would place the City’s limited dollars at great risk in negotiations."
- Full text of Measure U
- Analysis of Measure U
- Argument in favor of Measure U
- Argument against Measure U
- The "Yes on U" website ("Save Brea")
- The "No on U" website