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Opinion: Finally, the San Diego County Supervisors seem to be getting serious about open government

San Diego Union Tribune logo San Diego Union Tribune 1/15/2021 The San Diego Union-Tribune Editorial Board
a statue in front of a building: A view of the San Diego County Administration Center. The San Diego County Board of Supervisors has approved setting up a public records portal to expedite responses to requests for public documents and creating an archive to make it much easier to access older county records. (Myung J. Chun/Los Angeles Times) © Provided by San Diego Union Tribune A view of the San Diego County Administration Center. The San Diego County Board of Supervisors has approved setting up a public records portal to expedite responses to requests for public documents and creating an archive to make it much easier to access older county records. (Myung J. Chun/Los Angeles Times)

This week, San Diego County supervisors unanimously approved what board Chair Nathan Fletcher called the county’s “Framework for the Future,” a wide-ranging plan outlining the new priorities of the Democratic-majority board. Supervisors also voted unanimously for a declaration that the county considered racism to be a public health crisis. The board has plainly entered a new era more reflective of the beliefs of county residents in 2021.

One of the most fundamental parts of the framework is the board’s commitment to a new era of transparency. The county’s resistance to allowing the public ready access to its internal workings was exemplified by its court fight to preserve an outrageous policy in which all emails were deleted after 60 days. Last year, a state appellate court said the policy violated public records laws, and the California Supreme Court declined to hear a county appeal supported by three Republican board members.

Now, at the suggestion of Fletcher, a Democrat, and newly elected Supervisor Joel Anderson, a Republican, the board has approved setting up a public records portal to expedite responses to requests for public documents and creating an archive to make it much easier to access older county records. The policy emphasizes a point contained in state law: When in doubt about how to handle a records request, government officials should err on the side of openness. Until now, that has not been the county’s approach at all. But public service is just that.

This story originally appeared in San Diego Union-Tribune.

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