Openness can’t be selective
In political circles, “transparency” is right up there with motherhood as an oft-proclaimed virtue.
The movement toward greater transparency is, however, not universal.
Legislative leaders have refused to even schedule a committee hearing on a constitutional amendment by Assemblywoman Kristin Olsen, R-Riverbank, that would require bills to be in print for 72 hours before being considered. With that rebuff, the requirement is now in a proposed initiative ballot measure.
It’s aimed at the flood of hastily and secretly drafted measures that pop up in the final hours – and sometimes the final minutes – of legislative sessions, or are suddenly attached to the annual budget bill.
They are usually vehicles for policy changes – special interest tax loopholes, for example – that could not survive in the sunshine, hence the nickname “mushroom bills.”
Legislators who bemoan the lack of transparency in the Coastal Commission would have more credibility if they’d embrace it for themselves.