COUNTY OF RIVERSIDE: PUBLIC RECORDS, KEEP OUT!

Posted: June 28, 2011 in Uncategorized
Tags: , , , , ,

This really isn’t about fees, its about access to public records that may maintain heightened level of government transparency, and that is what the county doesn’t want!   Because, the way, I see it, “since when have we’ve been honest?”  The $50.00 per hour fee for public record retrieval would definitely be a deterent and allow a transpicuous government to be non existent.  County Officer Ray Smith, who drafted the proposal,  stated “This is a way to try and recoup taxpayer dollars spent on extensive requests that take people away from their other duties.” I don’t know how to take this, but it appears that we, the taxpayer, are an imposition and a burden on the system.  Higher fees, as the County of Riverside would like to impose, will make it difficult for the public to gather information through the public records request act.  Government services were to always be available to the public, due to the taxes.  Government abuse of the check book  has enabled them to get around increase taxes that the public would ordinarily vote down, by implementing creative fees and revenue enhancers.  These fees and revenue enhancers do not need a vote of the people.  Is it the right of government that police, the fire department and other government agencies charge the taxpayer additional fees for services they should ordinarily be receiving? Double and/or triple secret taxation without representation?  In the private sector, if a vendor cannot do the agreed upon job  according to the agreed upon fee agreement, you find someone who will.  This would be illegal because the public records act for duplication of records depends on “statutory fees”, that is, fees that are based and enacted by statute.  The fee by law should be for the “direct cost” of the duplication, nothing more.  This would fall under California Government Code section § 6253 (b).   These fees are set by Legislation not by local ordinance, this was enacted to prevent abuse.  When government tries to impose high fees for public records, this means they are hiding improprieties, this is a “red flag”.   The less access the public has due to high cost of fees the better for government.  Higher County fees such as this would be an abuse of government, who are there to for the pleasure of the taxpayer, not for themselves, and that is what I call government arrogance and a breach of their fiduciary duty to the taxpayer.

UPDATE:06/29/2011: RIVERSIDE COUNTY SUPERVISORS REJECT PUBLIC RECORDS FEE.

UPDATE:07/12/2011: AS STATED IN THE PRESS ENTERPRISE: “… taxpayers have a right to know public employees’ compensation. It’s taxpayers’ money.”  People forget that government and it’s personnel are financed by taxes from the earnings of the taxpayer.

 SUMMARY OF THE CALIFORNIA PUBLIC RECORDS REQUEST ACT 2004, and GUIDE TO THE CALIFORNIA PUBLIC RECORDS REQUEST ACT

ALSO EVERYTHING YOU WANTED TO KNOW ABOUT CALIFORNIA PUBLIC RECORDS ACT.

Comments
  1. Anonymous says:

    The retrieval of records can be quite expensive; staff time at all levels is required, as well as the cost of copying documents, retreiving documents from outside storage companies, etc. I doubt the taxpayers would be happy about paying a handful of staff to do nothing but gather documents day in and day out. A happy medium must be found. Any records retrieval would likely cost well over $50 in City resources. And there are citizens who would abuse public records requests in their quest for finding a needle in a haystack so they can seek to substantiate a suspicion that corruption must exist, somewhere, if they just look hard enough. I do believe the City has an internal auditor. I would suggest that a request for an internal audit of the area in question be submitted at a council meeting.

    • thirtymiles says:

      As it is, document retrieval can get expensive, that’s why not everyone will do this. But the founders of this great country new what they were doing. Maintaining transparency is of the utmost importance, and the duty of every citizen to keep a watchful eye on those we elect to a position of power. Just the other day their was a story regarding the loss of $360 million us tax dollars in Afghanistan, but there episodes of money losses we’ve yet to hear about. Yes their is a cost to the taxpayer, but it is part of the checks and balances that allows citizens to retrieve answers. The majority of document retrieval was transferred to a organized electronic retrieval system, this would certainly decrease the cost. Less close sessions council meetings would help. I don’t think there is abuse potential as indicated. Documents are documents and facts are facts. The system itself has made it more costly to the taxpayer due to how public record are organized as well. An internal auditor is justified, but is also the duty of the citizen to learn to audit public monies. This is because of the growing trend of distrust throughout our country of elected governement officials. Our we now to assume as a community that we should accept the answers to our elective officials as face value? Should their so called truth, of the elected officials, be accepted without question as their dogmatic postions for the benefit of all? Our founding fathers have empowered us, the people, with not only the duty to question, but to assume responsibility in mitigating any abuse which should cause a detriment to our local communities, and further our Country, by any means necessary. Necessary only to maintain the integrity and personification of our Constitution. Councilman Jim Ayers just receives a 1 year sentence. We are seeing this in San Bernardino, San Jacinto, Bell, Montebello and Inland Empire.

      • Sharon says:

        I don’t think Anonymous was saying no public records requests should be honored. What he was saying is right on. It costs money to answer the records requests, and as a taxpayer, I don’t want to pay for someone’s witch hunt. If there is a red flag that’s ok, but witch hunts hurt everyone. That’s when the folks asking for the records become just as bad as they think the people they are investigating are.

      • thirtymiles says:

        Thanks for your comment Sharon. Records speak the truth, to do otherwise would not only hinder public access but purposely give government more opportunity not to be transparent, costing more in the long run to the taxpaying public. The public records request act is part of the cost of a democratic government. Those who believe in a democratic form of government also believe if we didn’t have so much inconsistencies and corruption in government, as is apparent in current news stories, we would not have the need for it. Government could transfer all records to electronic filing, which could be easily accessed by the public, therefore cutting cost. But it would be wise to note that the current cost, outweighs, and is insignificant when comparing the cost of abuses by government in the billions and trillions of dollars, that in many instances cannot be tracked even via public record. You can always tell when an investigation is getting hot, when a government entity and executive personal want to raise the fees…then you know they have something to hide.

  2. Anonymous says:

    By the way, a list of employees’ compensation for every California city is available at the State’s website:
    http://lgcr.sco.ca.gov/EntityList.aspx?entity=City&load=ByDefault&year=2009

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