Last week, I posted about Democratic California Assemblyman Anthony Portantino's quest to get the Golden State's Legislature to open up its books and reveal the office budgets of its members -- budgets that are routinely kept secret. Portantino has been leading this effort largely because he claims his office allotment was slashed by Assembly Speaker John Perez as an act of retribution for Portantino's refusal to vote in favor of the state budget. But the entire battle is a proxy war over legislative secrecy, a trait that runs deep in Sacramento.
Now Portantino is upping the ante, both broadening his focus and parading his defiance towards his own leadership. As the AP reports:
A California lawmaker who is at odds with the Assembly's Democratic leadership has released his daily calendar for the first six months of 2011 to the Associated Press, breaking with the Legislature's policy of forbidding members from publicly releasing that information...
The legislative committees that oversee the offices of California's 120 state senators and Assembly members have refused several formal requests to release lawmakers' daily calendars, citing security and privacy reasons. The Legislature has exempted itself from the public records law that governs most state and local bodies in California and instead is covered by the Legislative Open Records Act, which lawmakers have used to give themselves greater leeway to decide what information to keep private.
If you're keeping score at home, that means that California lawmakers don't think their constituents have any right to know how public money is consumed or how public time is spent. That's a perspective too blithe even for good times, let alone the doldrums the Golden State is in now. California is becoming the sick man of the U.S. -- not a bad time to remember that sunlight is the best disinfectant.