Skelton: Brown should veto public records change

California lawmakers have taken a lot of heat since approving a provision weakening access to public records last week. Now they’re backtracking on the proposal, which was originally put forward by Gov. Jerry Brown.

In his Thursday column, The Times’ George Skelton says it’s another example of the governor’s disregard for the media, whom he rarely speaks with. In fact, he left a San Francisco event in the morning without taking questions from reporters about public records.

“Brown has shown little interest in dispensing information that doesn’t promote his own political agenda,” he writes. “Most successful politicians are that way. But Brown has the smallest public information staff — less than a handful — of any governor in decades.”

The governor wanted to save state money by no longer requiring local governments to comply with some parts of the Public Records Act, such as responding to requests within 10 days or providing information electronically.


The Assembly voted Thursday to remove the change from one of the budget bills. Senate leaders, however, have said they would not do the same. Both houses want a ballot measure next year that would preserve access to local government records without requiring the state to pay for the mandate.

Skelton says Brown should veto the public records measure even though that would require rejecting a larger budget bill.

“Let’s assume that Brown just didn’t think this bill through,” he said. “It originated with his numbers-crunching finance department, which was under stern orders to find cost-savers. But it’s foolish and dumb — both politically and as public policy.”

Browse the Skelton column archive.


An L.A. Times guide to public records

Proposed budget would weaken California records law

Budget could limit public’s access to government documents