Here is an interesting bit from Assemblyman Chris Norby’s latest newsletter documenting his effort to promote legislation to guarantee elected officials – like Fullerton’s Bruce Whitaker – access to public documents and records.
Well, Lo and Behold: it’s not necessary according to Legislative Counsel who determined that such a right already exists. Looks like somebody forgot to tell our esteemed City Attorney Dick Jones, who has publicly defended denying Whitaker access to city-owned records.
And it looks like we have another Recall issue.
So who the Hell is really in charge in Fullerton? The cops? The bureaucrats? The unelected City Attorney? The Three Triassic Fossils who have no authority to deny a duly elected official access to official records? Who?
In the words of the Bard, Bob Dylan in “Oxford Town”: somebody better investigate soon.
“Bruce’s Law” Restates Obvious
Can elected officials be denied information obtained at public expense on public property? Can unelected attorneys and administrators keep such information hidden from those who appointed them?
That’s what’s happening to Fullerton City Councilman Bruce Whitaker. His request to view the city’s video of the fatal beating of Kelly Thomas has been denied by the City Manager and City Attorney. That video was made by a city-owned camera at the city-owned Fullerton Transportation Center. Three of Bruce’s colleagues have chosen not to watch the tape, but have never voted to deny it to him.
Bruce doesn’t seek to release the tape to the public, or even have his own copy. He just wants to see it, to be in better position to understand what happened on that fateful July night. So I drafted a bill clarifying an elected official’s right to the same information as those they hire. “Bruce’s Law” would assure those we elect have access to information they need.
My bill was rejected by Legislative Counsel, however, as unnecessary. I was told that elected officials already have this right. I was told that unelected government employees cannot deny public officials information they need to represent their constituents. I was told that video camera footage taken by a public agency can be viewed by an official elected to govern that agency.
A new bill cannot be introduced which simply duplicates existing laws. But Bruce is still being denied the tape.