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CALIFORNIANS AWARE

OPEN GOVERNMENT • FREE SPEECH • PROTECTED REPORTING


March 28, 2017

Assemblymember Raul Bocanegra
California State Capitol
P.O. Box 942849, Sacramento, CA 94249-0039

RE: AB 1455 — OPPOSE

Dear Assemblymember Bocanegra,

Californians Aware (CalAware), a nonpartisan nonprofit organization established to
combat needless secrecy in government, opposes AB 1455, which would create a major
new exemption from disclosure under the California Public Records Act (CPRA).

The bill would permit cities and other local agencies whose employee relations are
governed by the Meyers-Milias-Brown Act to keep secret records “that reveal a local
agency’s deliberative processes, impressions, evaluations, opinions, recommendations,
meeting minutes, research, work products, theories, or strategy, or that provide
instruction, advice, or training to employees who do not have full collective bargaining
and representation rights under that chapter.”

The bill is in reaction to a January 2016 order by a superior court judge requiring
Orange County to disclose to a local blogger, during the course of its negotiations with
the deputy sheriffs’ bargaining unit, the offers and counter -offers made by the parties to
the negotiations. Unlike any other known CPRA disclosure demand litigation, the
county supported the requester, possibly because its all-Republican Board of
Supervisors had been unsuccessful with its proposed COIN ordinance, or because the
requester was a former executive director of the California Republican Party, or both.

In any event, it is extremely unlikely that other local agencies would support disclosure
of their employee bargaining documentation, especially during the course of active
negotiations. Without that support, records requesters would find it extremely difficult
to convince a court that disclosure would not put the public agency possessing the
records at a serious and unfair bargaining disadvantage, especially during negotiations,
given the CPRA’s Government Code Section 6255, subd. (a), which provides:
The agency shall justify withholding any record by demonstrating that the
record in question is exempt under express provisions of this chapter or that

2218 Homewood Way • Carmichael, CA 95608 • 916 487-7000 • info@calaware.org • www.calaware.org


AB 1455 -- OPPOSE
Californians Aware
March 28, 2017
Page 2 of 2

on the facts of the particular case the public interest served by not
disclosing the record clearly outweighs the public interest served by
disclosure of the record. (Emphasis added)

In short, the CPRA already provides a high if not insurmountable bar to disclosure
under these circumstances; local public agencies simply don’t need this bill.

Moreover, the bill is unconstitutional. It fails to include, and could not credibly do so,
findings mandated by Article 1, section 3, subdivision (b), paragraphs (1) and (7) of the
California Constitution:

(b) (1) The people have the right of access to information concerning the
conduct of the people’s business, and, therefore, the meetings of public
bodies and the writings of public officials and agencies shall be open to
public scrutiny.
*****
(7) In order to ensure public access to the meetings of public bodies and the
writings of public officials and agencies, as specified in paragraph (1), each
local agency is hereby required to comply with the California Public
Records Act . . . and the Ralph M. Brown Act, and with any subsequent
statutory enactment amending either act, enacting a successor act, or
amending any successor act that contains findings demonstrating that the
statutory enactment furthers the purposes of this section. (Emphasis added)

AB 1455 can hardly be said to further the purposes of a constitutional right in the people
of “access to information concerning the conduct of the people’s business.”

I would be happy to answer any questions you may have on this matter.

Sincerely,

Terry Francke
General Counsel

cc: Assembly Judiciary Committee Chair

2218 Homewood Way • Carmichael, CA 95608 • 916 487-7000 • info@calaware.org • www.calaware.org