Thursday, September 23, 2010

William Bagley, Former UC Regent Supports SB 330 along with many others!

“There is no accounting, no access to records of and expenditures made by university-affiliated organizations to and for campus-related activities. Senator Leland Yee’s Senate Bill 330 solves that problem. Even staff to the UC Board of Regents, by media accounts, recently ‘forgot’ the very existence of the Bagley-Keene Open Meeting Act. During the 1960s era of good government, the Legislature passed AB 495 and AB 219 to open the meetings of all State multi-member bodies. You would have thought that this message of transparency would have been received and honored. Not so. It is thus that, more than 40 years later, I ask that our Governor sign SB 330 to extend the Public Records Act of 1968 to certain defined ‘auxiliary organizations’ engaged in University activities.” –William Bagley, authored California’s landmark open government statutes as a member of the State Assembly from 1960 to 1974, and served on the UC Board of Regents from 1988-2002

Extensive Coalition, Including Author of Landmark Open Government Law, Urges Governor to Sign Transparency Bill
Thursday, September 23, 2010
PLEASE TELL THE GOVERNOR YOU SUPPORT SB 330 YOU CAN REACH HIM HERE
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Newspapers, faculty, workers, consumers, taxpayers, open government advocates urge Governor to sign SB 330 into law

SACRAMENTO – An extensive coalition of newspapers, faculty, university employees, consumers, taxpayers, and open government advocates are calling on Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger (R-Los Angeles) to sign legislation to bring greater transparency and accountability at California’s public higher education institutions. Bill Bagley (R-San Rafael) – a former University of California (UC) Regent and the author of California’s landmark open government law, the Bagley-Keene Open Meeting Act – also joined the coalition urging the Governor to sign Senate Bill 330 authored by Senator Leland Yee (D-San Francisco).

The Governor has until September 30 to act on SB 330, which would update the California Public Records Act (CPRA) to include auxiliary organizations and foundations that perform government functions at the UC, California State University (CSU), and California’s community colleges.

While the community college administration is neutral on the bill, the administrations of the UC and CSU are attempting to get the Governor to veto the bill, falsely claiming it would result in a “chilling effect” on private donations. In fact, the bill allows for donors to stay anonymous under most circumstances. Also, another state saw significant increases in donations after a similar law was enacted.

“UC and CSU administrators are doing a disservice to taxpayers by misleading the Governor,” said Yee. “Their claims are completely erroneous and unfounded. Secrecy breeds corruption and not more donations. I expect the Governor will see through their charade and sign SB 330 into law.”

Under existing law, these public institutions are able to hide billions of dollars within their auxiliary organizations and foundations, which are often staffed by public employees. This secrecy has encouraged colleges and universities to create an increasing number of auxiliaries to run campus operations such as food services, parking facilities, housing and bookstores – all of which would be subject to public oversight if they were administered by the agency and not an auxiliary.

“A majority of the billions of dollars held by these auxiliaries are funded by students and parents, and they have a right to know how their money is being used,” said Yee. “The Governor has another opportunity to burnish his record on open government. By signing SB 330, he will provide taxpayers and students what they deserve – information on how their universities are being run and how money is being spent that is intended for the benefit of the public institution.”

What others are saying about SB 330:

“There is no accounting, no access to records of and expenditures made by university-affiliated organizations to and for campus-related activities. Senator Leland Yee’s Senate Bill 330 solves that problem. Even staff to the UC Board of Regents, by media accounts, recently ‘forgot’ the very existence of the Bagley-Keene Open Meeting Act. During the 1960s era of good government, the Legislature passed AB 495 and AB 219 to open the meetings of all State multi-member bodies. You would have thought that this message of transparency would have been received and honored. Not so. It is thus that, more than 40 years later, I ask that our Governor sign SB 330 to extend the Public Records Act of 1968 to certain defined ‘auxiliary organizations’ engaged in University activities.” –William Bagley, authored California’s landmark open government statutes as a member of the State Assembly from 1960 to 1974, and served on the UC Board of Regents from 1988-2002

“SB 330 would create transparency regarding how auxiliary organizations that are closely affiliated with and provide funding to postsecondary educational institutions spend their dollars. These organizations provide as much as 20 percent of the funding for these postsecondary institutions that also receive general fund monies. If any of this funding is going toward administrative excess, while student fees are rising, the public should have a right to be informed about it. Subjecting postsecondary nonprofits to greater scrutiny under the Public Records Act would hold these organizations and the institutions they fund accountable to taxpayers.” –Michele Pielsticker, Vice President and General Counsel for California Taxpayers’ Association

“SB 330 would remove the cloak of secrecy that prevents the public from understanding whether significant amounts of educational funding for taxpayer-funded colleges and universities is being spent for the benefit of all Californians or just a privileged few.” –Jim Ewert, Legal Counsel for the California Newspaper Publishers Association

“If government agencies can spin off front groups to handle their income with no transparency, those who provide that funding will never know quite where their money goes.” –Terry Francke, General Counsel for Californians Aware

“Donors have a right to know how their money is being used and to have confidence their monies are used appropriately. A signature will prevent these public institutions from continuing to operate in secrecy, and our hope is that the Governor is not misled by the CSU and UC’s specious arguments.” –Lillian Taiz, a CSU professor and President of the California Faculty Association

“Governor Schwarzenegger made a commitment to the people of California to expose waste, fraud, and abuse in government. SB 330 is a necessary first step in bringing greater transparency and openness to our public colleges and universities. Everyday Californians should not be compelled to sue the UC just to obtain public information on how taxpayer dollars are being spent.” –Lakesha Harrison, a UCLA nurse and President of the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees, Local 3299, representing UC patient care and service workers

“Auxiliary organizations have been growing in influence on California campuses without restraint. Auxiliary organizations at the CSU have been found by the state auditor to lack adequate accountability. SB 330 will allow consumers to enjoy greater transparency and accountability of how private donations and student campus fees are used at the CSU, UC, and California Community Colleges.” –Richard Holober, Executive Director of the Consumer Federation of California

“With our public higher education system in a critical state, Greenlining believes that greater transparency will limit sacrifices made to the quality of education while ensuring that public money is used efficiently. SB 330 crucially extends the transparency and report requirements to auxiliary organizations, while addressing concerns of donor privacy by including an exemption. SB encourages accountability and would help prevent the recurrences of prior instances of misuse and abuse of funds.” –Samuel King, Managing Attorney for the Greenlining Institute

“Auxiliary organizations have more and more taken on the role of providing services and performing the mission of these higher education institutions. Yet, they operate in the shadows because they do not have to comply with the transparency rules like those that work right alongside them. That simply creates too much opportunity for shenanigans.” –Barry Broad, California Teamsters Public Affairs Council, representing UC clerical workers

“The public’s business should be transacted in public and public agencies must make their action open and conduct their deliberations openly.” –Toni Trigueiro, Legislative Advocate for California Teachers Association

“Senate Bill 330 is a measure that secures transparency in auxiliary organizations of a CSU, California community college, and UC. We commend Senator Yee for authoring such a valuable piece of legislation.” –Sherri Golden, California State University Employees Union

“SB 330 will strengthen the California Public Records Act and force public institutions to comply with how the original law was intended to work. The nurses that work for UC understand how important it is for the public to have transparency when dealing with their hospital; it improves patient care and ensures that the UC continue to fill its roll as part of the safety-net system.” –Stephanie Roberson, Legislative Advocate for the California Nurses Association

“SB 330 will result in greater transparency as to how private donations and student campus fees are used. We are extremely pleased and gratified to endorse SB 330.” –John S. James, Vice-President of the Academic Professionals of California, representing academic support staff at CSU

“SB 330 reflects the intent of Proposition 59 – approved by 83% of voters in 2004 – granting the constitutional right of the public to access public records, with the assumption favoring ‘open disclosure.’ Campus auxiliaries are used to hide public contract information about the expenditure of public funds. SB 330 will provide the public and state policy makers greater transparency in determining how publicly-funded college campus auxiliaries are operated, and how student revenues are used to enhance the educational mission of our state and community colleges.” –Terry Brennand, Senior Government Relations Advocate for Service Employees International Union

“Our public university, the University of California, for years has used auxiliaries and foundations to run more and more campus operations behind closed doors. It is completely unacceptable for our university to hide their operations and spending of student fees, tax dollars, gifts, etc. from students and the citizens of California. The Board of Regents and all of UC must be completely transparent and accountable to not only students, but to all of California, and in all of their endeavors, not just the ones that they feel are appropriate. What do they have to hide? The UC workers in UPTE-CWA strongly endorse SB 330 and commend Senator Yee for this essential legislation.” –Rodney Orr, Legislative Advocate for the University Professional and Technical Employees - Communications Workers of America, Local 9119


California Newspapers Overwhelmingly Endorse SB 330:

SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS: Yee's crusade is about public disclosure, not Sarah Palin – Yee has proposed legislation, SB 330, to provide more oversight. It's overdue. And this time, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who vetoed a similar bill last year, should sign it.

LOS ANGELES TIMES: Fundraising, with limits – Sponsored by Sen. Leland Yee, the rare legislator who seems to have minded his knitting this term, SB 330 would make it expressly clear that auxiliaries are adjuncts of the schools. If they were genuinely private, they might have a claim to privacy, but they are not. With his signature, the governor can right a wrong.

SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE: Open the windows on UC, CSU foundations – The foundations aren't at all transparent, and it appears that they aren't always responsible, either. CSU officials have admitted that the foundations have mixed private and public money to the point where it's impossible for them to track the monies separately. There's more at stake here than just careless accounting. It's time for the public to know what the foundations have been doing with our money.

SACRAMENTO BEE: Palin visit becomes a teachable moment – It took Sarah Palin's celebrity status to elevate what had been a sleepy issue about California's colleges and universities hiding information behind their "private" nonprofit foundations. This case also revealed how the college's top administrators and foundation board are virtually the same. Lawmakers passed a bill to include these nonprofits in the Public Records Act. The governor should sign it.

SANTA ROSA PRESS DEMOCRAT: Opening Up – Yee's new bill exempts volunteers and anonymous donors from disclosure unless they receive benefits worth more than $500 in return. We can't always rectify our mistakes, but Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has a golden opportunity.

MODESTO BEE: It's time for foundations to be open – We encourage Gov. Schwarzenegger to sign the bill, which addresses a major concern he had last year when he vetoed similar legislation. While the Stanislaus foundation's secrecy over Palin's June appearance at the Turlock campus clearly added fuel to the fire, the issue is much greater than politics. Openness is openness, and we need more of it by foundations associated with public universities.

STOCKTON RECORD: CSU slush fund – It's time to increase transparency of university system's foundations. The fact that Palin's visit resulted in the largest fundraising event in the university's history is utterly beside the point. Taxpayers have a right to know how their money is being spent. We urge the governor to sign Yee's bill.

FRESNO BEE: College foundations should be open – There have been serious questions about how foundations have used their money. We think the public -- and foundation supporters -- deserve to know about such things.

BAKERSFIELD CALIFORNIAN: Keep tabs on state university foundations – Classifying such documents as public record not only minimizes the chances that state resources will be doled out extravagantly or irresponsibly, it limits the chances of individuals using such funds for personal benefit. Yee rewrote the bill to address one of the governor's primary concerns. These universities are playing with our money. Taxpayers deserve the right to keep closer tabs on them.

MONTEREY COUNTY HERALD: Someone has to watch college foundations' spending – It makes no sense that foundations closely affiliated with universities should be allowed to spend money on programs or facilities in secret. The foundations often play a valuable role supplementing state dollars, but officials at all levels of the state and college systems have shown strong tendencies to play fast and loose even with purely public money. What they are capable of without public scrutiny is anyone's guess.

MERCED SUN-STAR: It's time for openness at universities – Senate bill to shine a light on foundations is on governor's desk. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger should sign the bill, which addresses a concern he had last year when he vetoed similar legislation.

SALINAS CALIFORNIAN: Governor can boost open government – A bill that would boost transparency in state government sits on the governor's desk awaiting his signature; it could lift his legacy a tad once he leaves office. By signing SB 330, Schwarzenegger would keep his promise to improve open government in Sacramento. Taxpayers have a right to know how their money is being spent. They have a right to decide if certain expenditures are appropriate and ethical for public purposes.

LONG BEACH PRESS-TELEGRAM: A measure worth signing – SB 330 would make foundations associated with public universities subject to the same transparency rules as other public institutions. Exempting some donors from disclosure should allay the governor's earlier fears about discouraging donations.

CHICO ENTERPRISE RECORD: Universities should have nothing to hide – State universities aren't private schools and shouldn't try to operate as if they were. We find it despicable that the CSU and UC systems are lobbying hard to kill a bill that would make their operations more accountable. This time around, with the Stanislaus State fiasco fresh in everyone's mind and the exemption for anonymous donations written in, the Governor has good reason to sign it.

SAN MATEO COUNTY TIMES: It is about public disclosure of the public's business – Sen. Yee's demand for disclosure of Palin's contract pointed up the need for foundations affiliated with state universities to be more transparent. At least four of them, including those at CSU campuses in Sonoma, Fresno and Sacramento, have been accused of financial improprieties. Yee's broader concern — that universities may be using foundations to sidestep public disclosure — is justified by this fact: The foundations control about $1.3 billion in assets, 20 percent of the CSU system's annual budget.

TORRANCE DAILY BREEZE: A signature-awaiting bill that might help California – SB 330 by Sen. Leland Yee would make foundations associated with public universities subject to the same transparency rules as other public institutions. Foundations are closely intertwined with state educational missions.

WOODLAND DAILY DEMOCRAT: Schwarzenegger should add to his legacy – Here [is a bill] Schwarzenegger should add to his legacy: SB 330 by Sen. Leland Yee, D-San Francisco, would make foundations associated with public universities subject to the same transparency rules as other public institutions.

SACRAMENTO STATE HORNET: Shine a light on auxiliary funding – Students, being paying members of these universities, deserve to know where this money is coming from and how it is spent. The Hornet hopes Schwarzenegger will not veto this bill when it comes to his desk.

CSU LONG BEACH DAILY 49ER: CSU needs new atrium to view corruption – It’s in all of our interest to be transparent. It’s important that these foundations end the practice of secrecy so such conflict-of-interest scandals cease to plague the system. Those of us who attend any California system of education are at the doorstep of change.

PLEASE TELL THE GOVERNOR YOU SUPPORT SB 330 YOU CAN REACH HIM HERE
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source: http://dist08.casen.govoffice.com/

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