SPECIAL SERIES : 2004 National Election
Prop. 59 Makes Government more Accessible
October 27, 2004 6:13 PM
Many people may still have a hard time accessing government documents or attending government meetings. Proposition 59 may make accessing these resources easier.
California laws, such as the California Public Records Act or the Ralph M. Brown Act, allow people to get government documents or attend meetings, but government officials may restrict them because they want to keep some documents or meetings secret.
Proposition 59 would ensure that people can have access to government documents or attend government meetings at the state and local level. Some information can be generalized or limited if it is necessary provided that government officials explain the reasons why there is a limited access. Private information like personal matters would still be private. Legislature’s records and meetings are exempted from the proposition, according to the Official Voters Information Guide.
This may sound similar to the laws California currently has for the public’s access to government documents and meetings. The laws California has now are statutory, but Proposition 59 would be a constitutional right, said Corey Cook, political science assistant professor.
“[Proposition 59] can change a legal dimension,” said Cook, whose interest is California and Urban Politics. “Proposition 59 can change the state constitution to guarantee that voters have a right to information.”
So, proposition 59 would maximize public access. Since the proposition is a constitutional amendment, courts would ensure that people could access public records in a proper way. Prop.59 would not cancel other existing laws, according to David Green, journalism lecturer teaching Mass Communication Laws.
Often people have to explain why they want to see government information to government officials, but if Proposition 59 passes, people would not have to go through that process. Instead, government officials have to explain why they don’t disclose some information. So, non-government people and officials’ positions would be reversed, according to Cook.
Ellenor Li, a sophomore statistics major, agrees with Proposition 59.
On the other hand, Proposition 59 is weak because a judge can still decide whether or not government information should be disclosed, so access to all government information is not absolute, Cook said.
“[Proposition 59] is very general and broad, not specific,” he said.
For example, if people want to see government officials’ work e-mail addresses and their salaries since people pay for their income, Proposition 59 would not guarantee that people could see them, he said.
Although this is an opposition, “it is a narrow argument,” said Cook.
Brian Kim, a senior history major, disagrees with Proposition 59 because he doesn’t think many people really need access to government information.
“It’s going to be passed for sure,” said Cook. “I will bet 75 percent of voters say yes and 25 percent of voters say no.”
For more information about Proposition 59, visit the Official Voters Information Guide Website http://www.voterguide.ss.ca.gov/propositions/prop59-title.htm
POST A COMMENT
|BACK TO TOP|| |
Copyright © 2008 [X]press | Journalism Department - San Francisco State University