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Monday, June 25, 2012

S.F. Sunshine Committee Strife

Posted By on Mon, Jun 25, 2012 at 3:52 PM

click to enlarge rsz_empty_seats_thumb_500x339.jpg

There are four vacant seats on the city's Sunshine Ordinance Task Force. Contenders have been lining up, but there seems to be plenty of strife to go around when it comes to the governing body that's supposed to promote transparency and accountability in our local government.

According to Richard Knee, whose term officially expired in April, the Board of Supervisors is invested in usurping three incumbents as retaliation for making some of them -- namely, Supervisors David Chiu, Scott Wiener, Malia Cohen, and Eric Mar -- look bad. 


Knee cites a 14-page amendment that was added last minute to a Parkmerced development contract by the board's Land Use and Economic Development Committee in September. The Sunshine Ordinance Task Force found the committee's actions had violated open meeting laws.

Ever since it was voted into existence in 1999, the Sunshine Ordinance has been ridiculed for being ineffective when it comes to actually holding city employees accountable. Meant to serve as a watchdog, one that ensures access to public records and uphold open meeting laws, the task force can find a public official guilty of withholding information from the public and force them to release the requested information. Should the said official refuse, the task force can refer the case to the city's Ethics Commission for review, a step that's resulted in a dead end for accountability time and again.

Without any form of enforcement, what good is the task force?

And who will the newest members be? Knee critiques the Board of Supervisors for stalling on the new appointments, who must be nominated by outside organizations. And who will ensure transparency when it comes to who winds up taking those four seats designated for our government watchdogs?

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Laura Rena Murray


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