SAN JOSE -- Capping seven years of work, San Jose officials have adopted a slew of sunshine reforms meant to keep City Hall more open.
The vast majority of the 80 or so policies have been in place for the past several years but are only now set to become law following a unanimous vote from the San Jose City Council on Tuesday. By setting the reforms into law, it binds future city leaders to follow the same guidelines used by the current administration.
But there were also some changes that slightly water down the rules, and critics again bemoaned that the council failed to adopt some of the recommendations made by the task force billed with reforming the city's open government policies.
The ordinance brings Mayor Chuck Reed's "Reed Reforms" full circle after he ran on an open government platform in 2006 following scandals from previous mayor Ron Gonzales. Reed, who is termed out of office at the end of the year.
"Over the last seven years, we've had an experiment with open government," Reed said Tuesday. "We have implemented open government in ways that few cities in this state have done."
The issue has largely faded away in recent years after several big-ticket reforms were enacted. Now, council members routinely post their public calendars online while officials provide labor negotiations updates on the city's website, among other reforms.
But new changes will allow the city to post some City Council agenda reports late on a Friday a week and a half before a Tuesday council meeting, instead of two full weeks before a meeting as had been the case, because it was too much work for staffers. Most cities, though, only post materials on upcoming votes three days ahead of time, which is the state law.
The council again also declined to adopt seven of the recommendations from the 20-member Sunshine Reform Task Force, which spent two years advising the council on open government last decade. Among the reforms not adopted included requests for police to disclose more information on crimes and for the city to stop using a "balancing test" to determine whether the public's right to know is worth releasing certain sensitive public documents.
Bert Robinson, managing editor of content for this newspaper, was a member of the task force.
Council members showered Reed with praise at Tuesday's meeting for leading the open government movement.
"Besides pension reform, I think this should be one of your biggest legacies that you leave behind for San Jose," Vice Mayor Madison Nguyen, a Reed ally, said from the dais.
Contact Mike Rosenberg at 408-920-5705. Follow him at Twitter.com/RosenbergMerc.