Is the Sun Shining on Local Government in Sonoma?

With Sunshine Week set to kick off March, we'd like to hear from you about the state of transparency in our local government. Who are the champions of open government? What needs improvement?


Sunshine Week, a national initiative launched in 2005 by the American Society of News Editors to educate the public about the importance of open government, kicks off March 11. We here at Mill Valley Patch want to use this opportunity to celebrate, converse, comment, debate and educate the 94941 about the importance of open government and the public’s right to know what government is doing and why.

This year Sunshine Week, funded by a grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation of Miami, is co-sponsored by ASNE and the Reporters Committee For Freedom of the Press and many other media industry partners, including Patch. The goal is to promote a dialogue about the importance of open government and freedom of information. 

In California, there are two acts that provide open access to public meetings, The Brown Act and The Bagley-Keene Open Meeting Act.  We also have the California Public Records Act that gives citizens access to all kinds of public information that is useful to communities.

Here in Mill Valley, we've seen some significant improvements in government transparency over the past year, including the for all City Council and Planning Commission meetings, as well as the .

But there are a two things about which we'd like to hear from you:

  • Do you know any Sonoma residents who have championed local government transparency? The Sunshine Week organization is holding a national Local Heroes contest and nominations are due this week. Use this form to submit nominations
  • Have you faced any challenges with government transparency in our town, whether at , the or elsewhere? Share your stories below in the Comments section or email me at jimw@patch.com and I'll share them with our community.
  • Are there any policy you'd like to see our local government agencies institute to improve transparency? Post them in the comments section below or email me at alexis.fitts@patch.com
Dee Baucher March 08, 2012 at 09:59 PM
Seriously? This article from the Patch seems very ironic, appearing today alongside of the "special election" results from "Measure A Hospital Bond". We just witnessed a "whisper"campaign, conducted by the administration of a publicly supported entity, where previously identified hospital supporters were individually induced to send in their special ballots while the others were not, so that less than half of the voters would even participate in the election, thereby guaranteeing the desired results. The local newspapers helped to facilitate this sham of an election, by deliberately excluding any dissenting opinions regarding the appropriateness of this type of election, or the underlying necessity for financial support for an entity that has long been associated with financial malfeasance. These same newspapers refrained from any in-depth reporting or analysis of the underlying financial situation of the hospital, instead merely acting as parrots for the hospital's sanitized and obscured PR versions of their rationale for financial necessity. To add insult to injury, the newspapers and campaign managers for the hospital utilized threats of "death" to elderly voters, who were told that if the bond failed to pass the only ER in town would immediately be closed, thereby insuring their own demise. This manipulated election does not pass the smell test. An outside oversight body needs to review what has transpired in this "election".
Suzanne Barbara March 09, 2012 at 06:19 PM
Interesting point Dee.


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