San Francisco ballot initiative would require all public meetings be livestreamed

By : pando – excerpt

This morning at the San Francisco’s Department of Elections, in the basement of City Hall, a ballot initiative was submitted that would change the way residents interact with their government. The first of its kind measure would compel the City to livestream all public meetings (those at City Hall and those offsite), would allow the public to submit virtual testimony during those meetings, and would force the City to make concrete time schedules for the hearing of agenda items that generate demonstrate a high level of public interest.

“This proposal would open up government for thousands,” said San Franciscans for Open Government President David Lee, who submitted the initiative. “With technologies like Skype and Facetime and Periscope demonstrating that this can be done affordably, this makes sense. It will provide more accountability, transparency and access for citizens.”

The press conference, attended by a tiny gaggle of in-person press orbiting a single TV camera, was streamed live via Periscope.

Former San Francisco Supervisor, and current member of the State Board of Equalization, Fiona Ma was also on hand to support the measure.

“I’ve been elected to three different bodies in California, I know government works. And this is doable. It will bring more people into the system. Too often we just hear from the same people during meetings and this will open that up,” Ma said.

Lee, a former SF Recreation and Parks Commissioner appointed by Gavin Newsom, developed the proposal with the help of his students in an American Government course he teaches at San Francisco State University. Some 200 of those students will now lead the effort to collect the 10,000 signatures needed to get the measure on the ballot this fall. Perhaps ironically, those signatures must be collected on paper.

“We know that this can be done,” Lee said, but added “we don’t know exactly how.”… (more)

We received a number of complaints about how public meetings are conducted. Noticing methods and shortened response times are high on the list of complaints with the Planning Department and MTA. Rules committees are being watched carefully as questions are raised about the constitutionality of administrative laws written by non-elected staff members of government departments and agencies. The matter is serious when it involves selling off public privileges to private enterprises for the benefit of the agency writing the rules. Many see this as a conflict of interest.

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