Public Comment

Sunshine/Open Government Ordinance Incorrectly Labeled

By Martha Nicoloff, Co-author Neighborhood Preservation Ordinance
Thursday May 31, 2012 - 03:51:00 PM

On Tuesday night's Berkeley City Council agenda, item #38 had a clearly identified title for an initiative being voted on in November.

For the Council's convenience in identifying, issue #38 was titled the "Sunshine" initiative. I find it more than curious that they did not extend the same information, as a courtesy, to the voter in the November ballot title. The language to be included on the ballot has a title that does not refer to "Sunshine" or "Open Government". As we gathered signatures of well over three thousand Berkeley voters, we always had posters and leaflets that said "Sunshine/Open Government". They read them and knew exactly what they were approving when they attached their signatures to the petitions. 

We anticipate a long ballot with multiple issues, and it would only be both fair and accurate in the title wording for our initiative to include the words "Sunshine" or "Open Government" as was done on the Council agenda Tuesday night. 

Ten years ago the "Height of Buildings" initiative gathered enough signatures to be on the ballot. However the title given it by the City Attorney did not include references to building heights. It appears that a deliberate effort was made to obscure the issue for the voter. 

Since four members of Council and the Mayor are up for election on the November ballot, it would be blatantly embarrassing to oppose a citizens' effort for Open Government.