Oakland City Council Quietly Cuts Transparency Measures from Final Budget


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  • Bert Johnson/File photo
  • Oakland City Hall.
Two policy directives drafted by Councilmember Dan Kalb to increase government transparency were cut from the final 2015-17 Oakland budget passed on Tuesday.

One of the proposals would have required all documents filed in Oakland’s online Legistar system to be "machine readable," giving anyone the ability to search the entire text of reports and other supplemental materials by keyword and find PDF documents discussing issues of concern to them. The policy directive would have implemented a “paperless and entirely electronic,” agenda filing system.

The second proposal would have required all city boards and commissions to post all of their agendas and materials online, and to make an archive of these materials permanently available. As the Express reported in May, many city boards and commissions do not post archived materials online. Some boards and commissions don’t have websites. Many boards and commissions also do not post upcoming notices of meetings online, and some do not even post paper copies of their agendas on the bulletin boards outside City Hall – the most minimal standard required in order to comply with the Brown Act and Oakland’s Sunshine Ordinance.

Why these two good government transparency measures were removed from the final budget is unclear. Council President Lynette Gibson McElhaney included the proposals in her initial budget amendments submitted on June 18. But the council president’s second draft submitted on June 25 struck these policy directives.

Councilmembers Dan Kalb and Lynette Gibson McElhaney did not immediately return phone calls.