More California public records may become available

A case pushed to the California Supreme Court by the Contra Costa Times, has delivered a victory for open government advocates. The court concluded that the public has a right to know the income of government employees, that disclosure does not constitute an unwarranted invasion of privacy. The Times was victorious in the lower court but unions representing government employees appealed to the Supreme Court. The AP story cites a union representative who claimed that releasing the salaries of the public servants would lead to unwanted sales calls. That has to be the most weak, laughable argument for restricting government-generated records which potentially could expose all kinds of government misdeeds.

The same AP story reports that in another ruling the court added the California Department of Justice database records of police officers’ names and hiring and termination dates to the list of public information. This is good news for police misconduct investigations, which will be assisted by being able to track the movement of law enforcement between departments. I just hope the Contra Costa Times publishes the entire salary database on its Web site, as many others have done.

Sharpen your pencils and start drafting those Public Records Act requests.

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