Voters in Dixon will make a decision in November on the Sunshine Ordinance, appearing as Measure “N” on the ballot. Measure N is about citizen access to
government doings making for an open and transparent process. The goals of this measure are simple:
Prompt access to all public records
Timely access to the same information (non-confidential as per the Brown Act) on issues as is available to our elected officials and city staff.
Fair opportunity to comment in open meetings on issues before decisions are made
Realization of our right to learn about, attend, and participate in public meetings and the decision making process.
Measure N, when approved, will provide Dixon citizens with tools that make wide participation in government possible. It mandates that our leadership direct and support our city clerk’s office to plan and prioritize goals so that already mandated tasks get done.
Opponents invent high potential costs of Measure N citing city attorney time spent on public records requests. Here’s the joy of this measure: properly indexed records will save so much staff and city attorney time – making far fewer attorney reviews-- because records will elegantly and automatically be made available to citizens in a timely manner. Yes, that is the goal and the long-term savings are expected to be substantial.
That is, properly indexed records will save staff time and make information immediately available to us. Thus, the city attorney will no longer be charging us, the taxpayers, thousands of dollars to review individual public records requests. Measure N eliminates up front city staff confusion about which records should be made available to the citizens.
The proposed oversight commission is a designed to be a nonpaid
group – just like the other citizen commissions already in operation in our
city. Some staff support will be needed. Access to the city attorney is assured just as it is for any council appointed committee making the Sunshine Commission no different than the Wastewater Committee or Planning Commission. Further, if any legal issue might arise, it is quite possible that an attorney would handle the case on a pro bono basis. But just for a minute, let’s assume that in the beginning there might be more than incidental costs. Then it might be appropriate to consider that such support for the Sunshine Commission come from charging market rate rent for the train station, instead of the current council set rate of $1 per month to the local Chamber of Commerce. Making such a reasonable budget adjustment makes sense so beginning January 1, 2013, we would have a small “sunshine” pot of money to use for start up.
Democratic process means insiders and the rest of us get to discuss what is mutually beneficial. Only those who want to control without community dialogue or opposition will tell you otherwise. Vote Yes on Measure N.
Jim and Shirley Humphrey