It drives me crazy, figuratively, of course

John Diaz

Sunday, June 21, 2009

SF Chronicle

  Update: I'm pleased to report that a lawsuit demanding that the California
Legislature provide access to its electronic databases of voting records
has been settled - in the public's interest. As I outlined in a Dec. 7
column, the nonpartisan Berkeley group had been unduly
frustrated in its attempt to set up the type of money-and-voting-record
comparisons it had created for the U.S. Congress. The problem was that the
state Legislature had provided voting records in a plain-text format,
which limited viewing to one bill at a time and made analysis lengthy and
  Under the settlement, groups such as - or any news
organization or citizen who wants to monitor the actions of our elected
representatives - will have access to machine-readable databases of voting
  "The only way to push back on special-interest influence is through
disclosure," said Peter Scheer, executive director of the California First
Amendment Coalition, which joined in the Freedom of
Information lawsuit.
  As I suggested in December, the outrage is that it took a lawsuit to open
the windows into legislative activity within the state Capitol. At a time
when the governor and legislators are squeezed for dollars, the state will
be paying the $65,000 in legal fees to the plaintiffs in a lawsuit that
could have been avoided.