Open Government

Blogging and Political Discrimination

BloggingBy Jeff Boone

I had to stop blogging using my real name.

The reason: because of certain political comments I had made as a private citizen, my company was harmed by a rejection of likely participation in a government-run program.  To prevent future harm, I had to start using a pseudonym.

Misreading the Data on Gun and Automobile Accident Fatalities

gun-controlIn the weeks since the Sandy Hook massacre, we have seen a re-engagement of the gun debate.  It is an issue area that had been largely ceded since 2000 when Al Gore, running for President, made mistaken inferences from public opinion data and failed to recognize that, while a majority of Americans may support tougher gun control, the group most likely to vote on that basis was heavily against any tougher regulations.

At the same time, I continue to be somewhat awestruck at the lack of basic statistical awareness on the part of opponents of tougher gun laws.  A good case in point is Greg Stovall in the local paper, who accuses many of “hypocrisy in the wake of shooting.”

A Commentary on Reader Comments


Two years ago this site had a pretty bad reputation for being a tough place in terms of the comment section.  People told me they would avoid the comment section altogether, and some people did not even like going to the site because of what they called vitriol.

As I look at other sites around the web, I question whether the Davis Vanguard comment section was ever that bad, but following one particularly contentious election I knew there had to be changes made.

Study Shows What We Already Knew: Term Limits Do Not Work

sacramento-state-capitolAt the outset here, I will admit I am philosophically opposed to term limits.  I believe the public has the right to vote for whomever they choose to vote for.  I oppose term limits on Presidents as well, as all it has done is turn the second term into a dead zone.

But that point aside, term limits from a practical perspective were doomed to fail, as well.  Like many reforms, they came in California from a confluence of two sources – ideology and good government people.

As the Media Swarms and Pounces on Murdoch, Time To Defend Fox News

Ailes-RogerThe events of the last few weeks with the scandal in the British tabloids have focused renewed attention on Fox News.  While the phone hacking scandal that has ensnared Mr. Murdoch is salacious, it is the type of story news people live for, particularly since it is happening to Fox News, who has become the voice of the anti-media.

Despite all of this, I will defend Fox News with some caveats.  First, you have to understand what they are and what they are not.

Supreme Court Strikes Down Ban on Violent Video Games


In an interesting ruling that crossed political and ideological lines, the US Supreme Court struck down on Monday a ban on the sale of violent video games to minors in California, a bill written by Senator Leland Yee.

The Court’s 7-2 ruling, that again crossed ideological lines, ruled that the 2005 law violated free speech rights under the First Amendment, with the odd couple of Justice Stephen Breyer and Clarence Thomas opposing.

Grand Jury Hammers Winters School District on Open Government and Transparency Issues

grand-juryThe Yolo County Grand Jury hammered the Winters School District for numerous violations in response to citizen complaints “regarding 2009/10 Board of Trustees’ actions at meetings and treatment of community members, particularly in response to the nonrenewal of a designated employee’s contract at the high school.”

According to their report, these allegations concern, in particular, a variety of violations of both Board Policies and Bylaws as well as the State’s Brown Act that regulates and mandates open public meetings.

Proposed Constitutional Amendment Would Bolster Brown Act

Yee-Palin_PC-1In recent years the Brown Act, which protects the fundament right for the public to be noticed of meetings by public officials and governmental bodies, has been suspended or threatened during the state’s current budget crisis.

Under state law, local governments are reimbursed the cost of fulfilling statutory requirements enacted by the Legislature – so when the state’s budget fails to allow that reimbursement, local governments have argued that they are no longer required to fully notice meetings.

Stanislaus Hammered over Handling of Palin Situation


In April a story exploded that CSU-Stanislaus had failed to properly turn over public documents requesting how much money they had spent for the controversial former Governor of Alaska, Sarah Palin, to speak at their commencement address.  Accusations flew that they had improperly denied a public records request, claiming first that they did not have the documents, and then when documents surfaced, that they were a private entity and not subject to the records act.

To add fuel to the fire, students came forward after discovering a document-shredding party.  Two days after Senator Leeland Yee and Californians Aware were denied their request for public information, several students found documents in the dumpster, including pages 4-12 of Sarah Palin’s contract.  According to the students, these documents were intact and were mixed in with other documents that apparently had been shredded on a furlough Friday by University Officials.