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Times Editor Chris Lopez's weblog

Friday, May 27, 2005

Back to court

We learned today that unions representing government employees will appeal to the state Supreme Court recent court rulings that government salaries are public records. Our newspaper sued the city of Oakland when it refused to release the names of employees earning $100,000 a year. The Alameda County Superior Court and then a state appeals court ruled in our favor, saying that taxpayer-funded salaries are public records. The city of Oakland ended up paying our attorney fees after the court rulings. Now the unions want to continue to fight by taking the issue to the state Supreme Court. The government unions have another case before the state Supreme Court that involves the Los Angeles Times. The LA Times requested a roster of names of LA police officers, their date of hire and the date of any terminations. The LA Times won their request in superior court, but then that decision was overturned by an appeals court. The matter is headed to the state Supreme Court. The state Supreme Court will now have two issues before it if it agrees to accept the cases: 1) Are salaries of public servants public records? 2) And are the names of police officers and their date of employment public records? The government unions say no, that taxpayers don't need to know how much local governments pay employees and taxpayers don't need to know the names of police officers who patrol the public streets. We'll be in court arguing for the public's right to know should the California Supreme Court hear the cases. In the meantime, other local governments are watching the cases to determine whether they should comply with requests for public salary information.


Blogger neonormal said...

This is so frustrating. These are our tax dollars being spent. We need to know how big government is, how efficient it is, and the Times is doing their job in getting the salary info.

The cop info is a little different. There are lots of angry criminals who would love to know where their arresting officer lives. With the Internet making it so easy to find people, it is not hard to imagine how easy the police roster's data could get into the wrong hands.

We have to trust the LA Times will do the right thing with the police roster if they win. Even though, unfortunately, they do not have a sterling record in doing the right thing.

For The Times to have sued at the expense of The City Oakland is a regrettable waste of city and newspaper resources. But one that needed to be made.

The more open our government the better. The Times did the right thing.

2:42 PM  

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