(10/12/06) The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), Privacy Act, and the California Public Records Act have been used by ordinary citizens and others to gain access to information held by local, state, and federal government for years with much success.

Now, after many years the FOIA and the California Public Records Act has been clouded by some San Francisco government departments and officials to cover up dubious actions and in many cases to delay giving out pertinent information to the public at large. Lack of understanding formats have been used as a cover up and the law is clear about disclosing information requested without withholding any information that is mandated and available to the public at large.

The City and County of San Francisco in recent years have met with great resistance from the San Francisco City Attorney, under Dennis Herrera. Dennis Herrera and his team of attorneys many of them inept, some ignorant and for sure many arrogant chose to defy the norms that are mandated to the public under the Public Records Act as laid down by California State law.

For some time now some of us first amendment advocates have requested information from the Clerk of Board, Gloria Young only to be told that the City Attorney has a say as to how and what can be released. None of the information was highly classified but the requestors and that includes me were put through tremendous obstacles.

Recently, before the Rules Committee the issue of Access to Public Records was discussed and following the meeting the Rules Committee sent certain recommendations before the full Board of Supervisors. Under pressure from the State and other well know legal authorities the San Francisco Board of Supervisors will now permit records to be accessed to and given in the format they are requested. The two most common formats Word and Portable Document Format (PDF) can now be provided to the Public at Large by the various City Departments.

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