Senator Ben Hueso Rejects City Attorney Mara Elliott's Public Records Proposal

Author: Jeff Powers
Created: 12 March, 2019
Updated: 21 November, 2022
3 min read

San Diego, Calif.- Independent Voter Network has learned Senator Ben Hueso will not be bringing  SB-615 to the floor in Sacramento for consideration.

SB-615 was crafted by San Diego City Attorney Mara Elliott. It's a proposal that critics say, makes it much harder to sue agencies that fail to comply with the Public Records Act.

Elliott's office released the following statement:

"I believe our elected leaders have an obligation to tackle tough issues and advance thoughtful solutions to the serious challenges facing our city and its taxpayers. That's why I have a wide-ranging agenda as your City Attorney - preventing gun violence, prosecuting polluters, protecting consumers from fraud, going after domestic abusers - and that's why I've supported state legislation to help San Diego. I thank Senator Ben Hueso for having the courage to take on a difficult issue and everyone who expressed their support and opposition along the way."

The decision by Senator Hueso confirms his stated commitment to transparency and protecting taxpayers.

“This morning I spoke with the San Diego City Attorney’s Office about my decision to pull SB 615. I have great respect for City Attorney Mara Elliott and believe she is genuinely motivated by public service and is working diligently in the best interest of the public," Hueso continued, “From the outset, my objective for this bill was always to make the process of obtaining public records more efficient and expedient for taxpayers. The Public Records Act is an essential component of California’s strong commitment to open government and transparency, of which I’ve always been an ardent supporter. After hearing from stakeholders on both sides, I concluded the discussion about how to accomplish efficiency in that system requires a lengthier conversation between all interested parties.”

Last week Hueso told IVN, “My objective is to protect taxpayers while increasing transparency in government,” promising, “I will not move forward with any legislation that compromises the obligation of government to be transparent in any way.”

Political Heat

What started as a quiet effort to remake the public records process, quickly turned into a firestorm of controversy.

On Monday, the San Diego City Council voted unanimously to oppose City Attorney Mara Elliott's effort, saying it was an attempt to undermine the state’s public records law.

IVP Existence Banner

Mayoral candidate Cory Briggs made an impassioned plea at the meeting, asking council members to reject Elliott's language then tweeted the council's decision:


What's Next?

Former San Diego City Councilwoman Donna Frye, an open government champion noted to IVN, city documents should be posted online.

“To say that this bill is to help the public is just not believable. This needs to be stopped as it has nothing to do with streamlining the process for the public,” Frye continued, “The easiest way to make sure the public has those documents is to post them online. Pretty simple. Make it easy, not more difficult."

If reworking the public records process is on the table, Frye's solution could be a good place for the city to begin.

A decade ago, the city clerk said it received roughly 340 Public Records Act requests in a year. In 2015, the city installed a new system to make it easier to track and handle those requests and the number jumped to about 4,800 requests.

Image Courtesy: Sam Hodgson

Latest articles

Glenn Youngkin
The Irony of Gov. Glenn Youngkin Vetoing a Ranked Choice Voting Bill
Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin has said no to a bill that would clarify how ranked choice voting (RCV) is supposed to work in local elections -- which is odd considering the only reason Youngkin is governor is because of a RCV nomination process at the 2021 Virginia GOP convention. ...
12 April, 2024
3 min read
Trump and Biden Debate
If Trump or Biden Don't Want to Debate, Give The Stage to Someone Else
Major national news outlets reportedly are drafting an open letter to President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump's campaigns urging them to debate this fall. Biden has threatened not to debate at all, and Trump doesn't have a solid track record committing to debates....
10 April, 2024
3 min read
Electoral College
The Electoral College Reform the Nation Needs is Not What Either Party Wants
Nebraska is one of only two states that has a system that awards its Electoral College votes based on the popular vote in each of its congressional districts. However, there is a contingent of state lawmakers who want to change this with the support of former President Donald Trump....
08 April, 2024
11 min read
Joe Biden
Biden's Problem with Independents: His Party Is Constantly Insulting Them
Biden is connected to the Democratic Party. In fact, he is the Democratic Party. And there is no organization more oblivious to how it ignores and disrespects independent voters than the Democratic Party....
07 April, 2024
4 min read
New Campaign Launches to Ease Panic over Elections that Go Into 'Overtime'
The worse political polarization gets, the more anxiety people feel over close elections. Accusations surface about rigged processes, frustration builds when results aren't called on Election Night, threats against election workers surface, and errors in reporting are made....
07 April, 2024
2 min read
missouri state capitol
The Missouri Resolution Designed to Sucker Voters into Banning Ranked Choice Voting
There is a resolution in the Missouri Legislature that if approved by voters would ban the use of ranked choice voting (RCV). However, RCV isn't the sole subject. There is another provision meant to trick voters into supporting it. ...
05 April, 2024
4 min read