Assemblymember Vince Fong‘s AB-289 would establish the office of CPRA ombudsman under the State Auditor. The ombudsman would review requests made of state-level offices and would be empowered to actually turn the disputed records over to the requester if it were determined that they’d been improperly withheld. This would be a really important development in CPRA-world given that presently the only recourse available to a member of the public whose requests are denied improperly is to file a lawsuit, which is expensive, anxiogenic, and slow as hell. The ombudsman would be required to respond to requests for review within 30 days.
As I said, sadly this would only apply to state-level agencies and not at all to local agencies like the City of Los Angeles and its panoply of damnable business improvement districts, all of whom deny requests improperly all the damn time. I sue a lot of them but I can’t sue all of them, at least not all at once. And a CPRA petition can take close to two years to get a BID to cough up records, so it’s not an ideal solution in any way. An intermediate level of review like this would be really useful on the local level too.
But that’s not to say that it won’t be very useful on the state level. In my experience the state is much better about CPRA compliance than the various local agencies I work with, but state agencies can nevertheless deny access to records improperly, and if this bill passes into law I expect to make fairly regular use of it. Looking at you, Alcoholic Beverage Control, you and your unhinged gun-brandishing special agent in charge Gerry Freaking Sanchez. I’ll be tracking this as it makes its way through the legislative process, and turn the page for a transcription of the Legislative Counsel’s digest and the text of the bill.
Continue reading Bakersfield Republican Assemblymember Vince Fong Introduced AB 289 — Seeking To Establish State Level CPRA Ombudsman — Who Would Receive Denied Requests From Members Of The Public For Review — And Would Be Empowered To Disclose Requested Records If Withholding Is Unjustified — This Would Only Apply To State Agencies — Not Local Ones Like The City Of LA And The Damn BIDs — Nevertheless It’s A Step In The Right Direction — Of Making Lawsuits Less Necessary — So That More People Will Be Able To Afford To Dispute Denials