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A fair, functioning democracy depends on the informed and active participation of people in their government.
For San Franciscans to be able to participate in their government, they must have the right to access public records, know what is happening in public meetings, and receive adequate notifications about proposed actions and decisions. LWVSF's goals are to:
The Sunshine Ordinance Task Force protects the public's interest in open government. Anyone can observe a meeting to better understand the role of the task force.
To make certain changes to your community, you have to be able to participate in your government.
You might want to understand why something in your neighborhood is happening (or isn't). There could be information in public records that you need. Talking to an elected official or attending a public meeting might allow you to influence a decision that affects your community. You might need to access a service or resource run by the government. Or, you might want to understand what you're voting on during an election.
If your government makes it difficult to do these kinds of things, it can mean you and your community can't make the changes you need.
Open government gives people access to the knowledge and tools they need to actively engage in the government decisions that shape their lives. It builds a sense of trust and reliability in the system.
Conducting government openly allows people to stay informed about policies and initiatives. It provides a foundation so people can make well-informed decisions, such as during elections, public debates, or advocacy efforts.
An open government also helps deter corruption and misuse of power. It makes it harder for officials to engage in unethical practices without being discovered. This, in turn, upholds the principles of fairness and equity, ensuring that every voice, regardless of background or influence, can participate in government decisions.
Open government is one that answers to its people. An open government will embrace transparency, participation, collaboration, integrity, accountability, and more.
The Sunshine Ordinance is San Francisco’s open government law. It is a set of rules designed to make sure the city government is doing its job in a way people can trust and understand.
These rules help people get access to information about what the government is doing. This includes things like meetings, documents, and decisions government makes. If you want to attend a meeting or see these documents, the government has to make it reasonably easy for you to do that.
The goal of the Sunshine Ordinance is to make sure that the government is accountable and that people can stay informed about what's going on in their city.
The Sunshine Ordinance, also known as San Francisco Administrative Code Chapter 67, is the nation's oldest open government law, it was first enacted in 1993 and amended by voters in November 1999 through Proposition G. The Sunshine Ordinance is based on the California Public Records Act and the state's open meetings law, known as the Ralph M. Brown Act. It draws additional authority from Article I, Section 3 of the California Constitution.
Public officials who attempt to conduct the public's business in secret should be held accountable for their actions. The Sunshine Ordinance Task Force is a group of volunteers who make sure that the city's government is transparent and open to the public.
If someone has a concern about whether government is following the rules in the Sunshine Ordinance, they can report it to the task force. The task force then may look into this report, conduct an investigation if necessary, and make a recommendation on how to fix the issue.
The task force makes sure the government is fair and and accountable to the people it serves. It ensures and broadens the public’s access to local government as guaranteed by law. Their goal is to make sure sure everyone can understand what's happening in the city's government.
The 11 members of the Sunshine Ordinance Task Force are appointed by the Board of Supervisors. Four of those members are nominated by public-interest organizations: the Society of Professional Journalism (Seats 1 and 2), New America Media (Seat 4), and the League of Women Voters of San Francisco (Seat 5).
Sunshine Ordinance Task Force members serve for two-year terms with no term limit. They are not paid or reimbursed for expenses.
While the Sunshine Ordinance has many strengths, it has not been updated in more than twenty years. As a result, it does not account for a lot of the technology government now uses for meetings, calendars, recordkeeping, communications, and more. In particular, the ordinance needs stronger recordkeeping requirements for digital communications used to conduct city business.
Currently, the authority to allocate funds for the task force can be used to influence and even limit the enforcement of the law. The law should be amended to ensure that the Sunshine Ordinance Task Force receives adequate staffing and resources. For the task force to be effective, its funding must be protected from political manipulation.
LWV of California provides information on open government at the state level.
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