Skelton: A race to undo public records mistake

Last week in Sacramento, something rare happened -- politicians did a complete reversal on a hotly contested issue. They dropped plans to weaken the public records act in a bid to save money in the budget. 

In Monday's column, George Skelton retraces how it all went down, including some jostling between the Capitol's legislative leaders.

Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez (D-Los Angeles) made the first move, announcing plans to strip the public records provision from a budget-related bill. Surprised, Senate leader Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento) didn't plan to follow suit, instead offering a constitutional amendment that would preserve access next year.

But the public outcry did not die down, catching the governor off guard.

"He hadn't paid much attention to this issue, ever," Skelton writes. "For him, it was about saving money — although, clearly, preserving the public's right to know was not one of his top priorities."

Brown told Pérez and Steinberg, "This is a mess. You guys need to fix this."

So after days of outrage, Steinberg announced he would follow Pérez and support a revised bill. Brown then indicated he would sign it, bringing the episode to a close. 

Browse the Skelton column archive.


Legislators, Brown backpedal on public records bill

Proposed budget would weaken California's public records laws

Jerry Brown abandons plan to limit access to government records

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