June 2014 Election, California, Proposition 42

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A proposition on the ballot for the June 2014 Election, California.

Our recommended vote: No

This issue is a fairly tricky one. We at The Shtick are generally in favor of greater government transparency, so on the face of it, creating a constitutional amendment that affirms that our government has a responsibility to be transparent wouyld seem like a pretty good thing. However, we are also concerned with the need for strong local government. If the effect of this proposition were only to cement existing transparency law into the constitution we would probably be in favor of it. However the more direct purpose is to shift the financial burden of compliance to the local governments. Once again, however, that seems immediately reasonable. The catch, as we see it, is that this proposition does not only affect existing law. Any expansion of the California Public Records Act would also be immediately dumped, financially, on our local governments. This would give State Legislators power to arbitrarily affect local government budgets without consequence. We think that putting the immediate financial burden of further legislation on the State is a necessary measure to keep the State's future expansions of the law reasonable and fiscally sound.

The official argument in favor of this measure states "Local agencies shouldn’t be allowed to deny a request for public information or slam a meeting door shut based on cost" and while we agree that to be true based on existing law. It is doubtful that this would always be true given the tendency to expand bureaucracy and legislation without pity for those affected. We here fall back on the principle that when we are in doubt, we vote no.