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FlashReport Weblog on California Politics

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Katy Grimes

California Democrats Kill Union Transparency Bills After CPA Exposes SEIU Spending

Assemblywoman ShannonGrove’s fight for public union employees who have been battling the Service Employees International Union for transparency was stilted Wednesday when Democrats killed two bills aimed at opening unions’ books, and allowing more frequent votes on union representation.

After several years of nasty legal battles with the SEIU to see where dues money is spent, the union members came to Grove and asked for her help. She allowed them to draw up two bills attempting at union reforms and transparency.

Grove’s two union reform bills,ABRead More

Katy Grimes

Digital Democracy Project Unleashes Oversight and Accountability on CA Legislature

Every year in California’s state capital, 120 full-time lawmakers, 2,000 full-time staff, and 130 legislative committees, introduce an average of 5,000 bills each legislative session, thus creating a booming industry for California’s 1,100 registered lobbyists. They do this with a $150 billion annual budget. And they do this while simultaneously managing to keep out most of the public.

In… Read More

Katy Grimes

Pepperdine Grad Students’ Head-On Collision With Local Govt. Officials

Why does it take 54 days, more than 30 emails, 25 phone calls, 3 faxes, and 2 trips to the city of West Covina to obtain records available to the public? The short answer is that some local government officials don’t believe they have to make the public records available to the public.

A group of graduate students working to achieve a Masters Degree from the Pepperdine School of Public Policy were assigned with obtaining all official campaign contribution forms 410, 460, and 700 for elected officials in the city of… Read More

Katy Grimes

Assembly Dems Kill Important Transparency Bill

They’ve done it again — Democrats in the California Legislature killed another good bill. While this may not seem newsworthy, the way they did the killing is.

For the third time since she has been in the Legislature, Assembly Minority Leader Kristen Olsen, R-Modesto, authored a bill to require all legislation to be in print and available to the public for at least 72 hours before a vote.

Rather than debating Assembly Constitutional Amendment 1, and then voting on it, Assembly Democrats in the Assembly Budget Committee sent the bill to the “suspense file,” following a brief speech from one lawmaker about the importance of transparency. This is underhanded and the epitome of hypocrisy; the bill was effectively killed without an up-or-down vote of the committee members.

“Apparently they are embarrassed to take a stand,” Olsen said. “They’d rather have the bill disappear.”

“‘Transparency’ is probably the most overused word in political speech, while at the same time, the most underutilized… Read More

Katy Grimes

New Technology Facilitates Transparency, Openness in CA State Govt.

‘Transparency’ is probably the most overused word in political speech, while at the same time, the most underutilized in practice.In a free society, transparency in government means openness, accountability, and honesty. It is the obligation of government to share information with citizens, yet is increasingly difficult to access – even in California, home to Silicon Valley.

Without transparency, citizens are unable to hold public officials accountable. And that’s the problem –government is responsible for making itself available to be accountable. It’s unnatural. While the true statesman values principle above popularity, today’s era of politics in California doesn’t breed an abundance of statesmen.

However, one of the good guys – a real statesman – former State Sen. Sam Blakeslee, has tackled the problem of transparency in politics. The Institute for Advanced Technology and Public Policy, under the leadership of Blakeslee, officially launched the Digital Democracy Project, to provide a searchable database of all legislative hearings. “This package… Read More

Katy Grimes

Contrasts In The CA Race For Secretary Of State Are Stark

The contest for Secretary of State between Republican Pete Peterson and Democrat Alex Padilla appears to be a classic race between a citizen politician and a career bureaucrat. Padilla, 41, is a termed out State Legislator, and a former Los Angeles city councilman. Peterson, 47, leads the Davenport Institute for Public Engagement and Civic Leadership at Pepperdine University, is a business owner, and was the first Executive Director of Common Sense California, a bipartisan, nonprofit “think-and-do tank” devoted to improving civic participation in California.

Their “top two” primary race in June was very close though only 25 percent of registered voters in California… Read More

Katy Grimes

Really good state budget transparency bills – will they be killed?

In 2012, the state Legislature passed 80 budget “spot” bills — empty bills with no details. Such measures just sit on a shelf and await last-minute bill language, then are put forward for late-night passage on the last day of the budget session.

These are often the most controversial bills of each session. When lawmakers use them to avoid the legislative process, which requires committee hearings for all bills, it is clear that their goal is to avoid transparency and public involvement.

This has long been the norm. It has arguably been encouraged since the 2010 adoption of Propositions 25 and 26 into the state Constitution, allowing the Legislature to pass a budget on a simple majority vote and requiring a supermajority vote to pass fees and taxes by the Legislature, respectively. Lawmakers routinely take major policy changes and potential tax increases and drop them in trailer bill language.

Gorell and other Assembly Republicans target ‘waste, fraud and abuse’

To counter this practice, Assembly Republicans are pushing budget reform and transparency measures.… Read More