Last week news broke about California State Assembly Bill 76, a proposal that would relax requirements on municipalities to respond to public records requests. Groups like the Electronic Frontier Foundation were outraged about the bill that passed seemingly without resistance. Newspapers from around the state—the largest users of public records requests—wrote editorials [1] [2] decrying the proposed change.

As this threat to government transparency looms over California, now is the time ask critical questions about Oakland’s local transparency laws. What is the current system, and is it meeting citizens’ needs? Since the state’s Brown Act/Public Records laws were written before even copy machines were invented (never mind the Internet), are there changes that could be made to increase its efficacy, efficiency, and communication?

Oakland’s Public Ethics Commission is interested in these questions and in hearing the public’s ideas, concerns, and suggestions. Real changes can be made.

To start this dialogue, the Commission is partnering with OpenOakland to host a free event on Tuesday, June 25 at 6:30pm in the Oakland City Council Chambers. Join us to kick-off the discussion about bringing Oakland’s public records request processes and government transparency goals in line with current open government ideas and technologies.

Speakers will include:

Government as a Platform – Tim O’Reilly, O’Reilly Media
Transparency 101 – Laurenellen McCann, Sunlight Foundation
The State of Transparency in California – Robb Korinke, California Forward
Public Participation – Greg Greenway, Davenport Institute
Oakland Innovations – Nicole Neditch, Oakland City Administrator’s Office
Community Partners – Steve Spiker, OpenOakland

Register for the event

About the Public Ethics Commission:
The Public Ethics Commission is charged with ensuring fairness, openness, honesty and integrity in Oakland city government and is equipped with the authority to oversee compliance with certain local ordinances aimed to achieve these broad goals.

About OpenOakland:
OpenOakland is a civic innovation organization founded in 2012 that brings together coders, designers, data geeks, journalists, and city staff to collaborate on solutions to improve how local government serves all citizens of Oakland.

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