The San Diego County Board of Supervisors Tuesday unanimously approved measures to enhance transparency and accessibility in local government, as part of Chairman Nathan Fletcher’s sweeping “Framework for the Future.”
Fellow Supervisor Joel Anderson partnered with Fletcher on the proposal, which is considered a larger recasting of San Diego County’s government.
“We can all agree that a cornerstone of good government is more transparency and opportunity for public participation,” Fletcher said before Tuesday’s 5-0 vote. “Supervisor Anderson and I are coming together to move our county government in this direction.”
“This policy will build on and expand the work around transparency we have already done,” he said. “Trust between individuals and government is strengthened when there is greater opportunity and access for everyone.”
The new policy includes:
— establishing an Advisory Committee to review, assess, conduct stakeholder outreach and recommend modifications to enhance transparency, accessibility and open government; public engagement processes and website offerings, including a Public Records Act portal; accessing archived public
records; an email retention policy; and board and stakeholder engagement.
— appointing Anderson and Supervisor Nora Vargas to the committee.
— directing the chief administrative officer to provide staffing to support the committee.
The committee will send regular progress reports to the Board of Supervisors, and return with a final report and recommended changes in 180 days.
Fletcher said his first two years in office were focused on increasing transparency with policies for evening budget hearings and evening public forums on Transparent Review of Unjust Transfers and Holds — better known as the TRUTH Act, which confirms due process rights to immigrants who Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents may seek to interview while incarcerated and possibly deport.
Anderson, who was elected in a tight race in November, campaigned on a message of bringing more transparency to the county.
“Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis famously stated that ‘sunshine is the best disinfectant,’” Anderson said earlier.
“To me that means that the intense light of transparency is the best way to ensure that the public interest is being served,” he said. “This should include releasing more information, in a timely and efficient manner, and ensuring that discussions about public issues should occur in open, not behind closed doors. I look forward to working with my colleagues and the public to create a vigorous review process to ensure that all that can be done is being done to truly augment transparency.”
According to Fletcher, the proposed policy aligns with his Framework for the Future of San Diego County, intended to prioritize communities and populations which have been historically left behind.
Supervisor Jim Desmond said after Tuesday’s meeting that he supports efforts toward transparency, which are steps in the right direction. However, he said, “I’m disappointed in the irony that not all (the) transparency committee meetings will be open to the public.”
Vargas said earlier that the committee is reviewing ways to improve public engagement. “I’m sure that Supervisor Anderson and myself could do that and bring those recommendations to you,” she told Desmond.
— City News Service