"I personally had nothing to hide," Canciamilla said. "Calendars give the best picture of who's coming in on a regular basis. If you see the same lobbyists Air Max 95 Grape
coming in 10 times, there's something more going on than the initial meet and greet."
Scheer said he was not surprised by the blanket rejections.
"For right or for wrong," Steinberg said, "when it comes to making hard agreements, compromise agreements, there has to be a level at least for me of being able to just protect the confidences of others who might be talking with me."
In seeking legislators' calendars, the news organizations hoped to determine how much of lawmakers' time lobbyists consume. This newspaper sent letters in April asking to view the activities of all freshman legislators, and their chiefs of staff and legislative directors, during their first month in office. The request for January 2011 calendars covered 29 first term Assembly members and three first term senators. The newspaper also requested the 2009 and 2010 appointments of Assembly Speaker John Perez related to a bill he pushed for Home Depot that exempted the mega chain from food safety laws.
"As they interpret it, it might as well be the Legislative Official Secrets Act," Scheer said. "The California Legislature sees itself as holding a specially privileged position in which they're not really accountable to anybody."
On rare occasions, some state legislators have released their appointment calendars. Joe Canciamilla, a Democratic Assemblyman from Pittsburg from 2000 to 2006, said that when he was asked by local newspapers to turn over his calendar, he willingly complied.
The AP asked for the calendars of four legislative leaders involved in last year's budget negotiations, and details of the scheduled meetings of all 120 lawmakers and their chiefs of staff and legislative directors during the first three months of 2011.
Yee, now a candidate for mayor of San Francisco, went so far as to write a letter to Schmidt urging openness. "For me, this is the people's work," Yee said. "The people should know what I'm doing. I think that's the only way to hold us accountable."
In its letter, the San Rafael based First Amendment Coalition sought all requests for legislative records from 2006 to the present, and all responses by the Senate and Assembly rules committees. That request was an effort to gauge how regularly the Legislature rejects requests for public information.
Their refusal places the Legislature at odds with the governor, other state constitutional officers and local elected officials across California, who routinely release appointment calendars so their constituents can see whom they meet and why information that gives critical insight into how the public's business is conducted.
'The people should know'
Maintaining the entrenched secrecy of the California Legislature, leaders in the state Senate and Assembly have rejected a joint request by the Bay Area News Group, The Associated Press and the First Amendment Coalition to open the appointment calendars of lawmakers and their key staffers to public view.
As part of a joint project, the Bay Area News Group, which includes this newspaper, the AP and the First Amendment Coalition sent 171 separate requests for legislators' calendars. Some asked for all calendar information for an individual legislator over a particular period of time, while others asked for scheduled appointments concerning the state budget, or a certain piece of legislation. They said they would provide no information about the balance of lawmakers' time, citing "concerns regarding privacy, security and legislative privilege."
Yee, D San Francisco, Assemblyman Rich Gordon, D Menlo Park, and Assemblywoman Susan Bonilla, D Concord agreed to present their calendars, only to be overruled later by the rules committees.
Nonetheless, the state denied access even to information about lawmakers who said Nike Air Max 95 Junior Jd they are willing to reveal their daily activities. Three legislators approached by this newspaper and the AP state Sen. Leland Air Max For Girls Black
The request for the calendars follows a multiyear investigation by this newspaper that revealed lobbyists' invasive role in California lawmaking. The paper examined six years of lawmaking and thousands of bills that were sponsored by outside interests. These sponsored bills are often written and guided through the process by lobbyists for corporations and special interest groups.
Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D Sacramento, said that even meetings that lawmakers have with other lawmakers need to be shielded from the public.
Some legislators heartily agreed. Even Blue Nike Air Max 95
The denial, received late last week, reveals that activities remain thickly shrouded inside the state Capitol, where a 2010 series in this newspaper documented just how beholden legislators are to lobbyists and the agendas pushed by campaign contributors.
Lobbyists' invasive role
"It's important we be protected by security measures," Campos said.
before the rules committees' formal rejection, Assemblywoman Nora Campos, D San Jose, had denied a request for the calendar of her first month in office. Campos cited a recent meeting with "some CEOs" who she said would not want the meeting made public. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords outside an Arizona supermarket.
Responding to the concerns about lawmakers' privacy, he noted that calendars could be edited to exclude private appointments which is how San Jose City Council members, for example, handle their calendars. "Anything in these records that's not something the public is entitled to see, they can remove that," he said. "If you're scheduling an appointment with a proctologist, we don't need to see that."
California legislators insist their calendars should be secret
Responding to multiple requests from the news organizations, the rules committees in both houses said release of the calendars would constitute "an unwarranted invasion of personal privacy" under the terms of the Legislative Open Records Act. That applies even if the legislators themselves want to release the information.
Peter Scheer, executive director of the First Amendment Coalition, said the public access denials are so outrageous that his public interest advocacy group is considering a lawsuit over the Legislature's erroneous interpretation of the law.
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