Respect the Sunshine Ordinance

The Alameda Sun received a copy of this letter addressed to Mayor Ezzy Ashcraft, Vice Mayor John Knox White and Council Members Malia Velia, Jim Oddie and Tony Daysog.

Dear incoming City Council:
The League of Women Voters of Alameda (LWVA) strongly supports the Open Government Commission’s unanimous Nov. 14 vote that the title and description of item 6-G from the Oct. 16 City Council meeting was insufficient to give the public enough information to understand what was happening. The commission is asking for the Council to rehear the item.

LWVA strongly advocated the formation of the Sunshine Task Force in 2010 and participated in many of its meetings to develop the Sunshine Ordinance. In 2012, the ordinance was approved by the City Council and reviewed by city staff and the City Attorney’s office. It was described as ‘an affirmation of good government and continued commitment to open and democratic procedures… [and] an effort to expand our citizens knowledge, participation and trust.’ The Council entrusted the Open Government Commission as the body to hear violations of the Ordinance.

The city is now asking the commission to reconsider its decision, potentially stripping it of any authority to levy penalties for violating the Sunshine Ordinance. Prior to its adoption in 2012, the Ordinance went through extensive reviews by the City Attorney’s office, the public and the City Council. The League is not clear on what has changed (other than staff in the City Attorney’s office) that invalidates this part of the Ordinance. 

LWVA believes that transparency and proper noticing of meeting agendas in clear language are essential to open and democratic procedures and participation as stated in the description of the Ordinance. If the city still supports these principles, the appropriate remedy is re-noticing the Ordinance.  

We urge the City Council to uphold the Open Government Commission’s decision and its right to levy penalties upon violations of the Sunshine Ordinance.

Georgia Gates Derr, Susan Hauser, Karen Butter and Felice Zensius, LWVA