Santa Clara has failed to comply with the California Public Records Act (CPRA) by lacking systems, employee training and documentation to properly fulfill public records requests, according to Tuesday’s report from the Santa Clara County Civil Grand Jury.
The Grand Jury found that despite being “in the midst of Silicon Valley with all of the area’s technical acumen and resources available,” Santa Clara’s recordkeeping is “disorganized and its staffing levels inadequate to process CPRA requests in compliance with the requirements of the law.”
The Grand Jury’s mission was examining Santa Clara’s contracting procedures. After encountering “numerous obstacles,” inadequate responses to document requests and “a lack of cooperation in scheduling Grand Jury interviews,” the Grand Jury gave up the investigation as “futile” and refocused its investigation on the City’s handling of public records requests.
The Grand Jury found that the City’s “disorganized recordkeeping and lack of a functional records management system hinders its ability to timely and accurately comply” with requests.
The report describes haphazard recordkeeping, routine and improper delays, providing irrelevant documents and failing to provide relevant ones, inadequate and untrained staff, an absence of automated systems, and lack of a “sense of urgency” about remedying the situation.
The Grand Jury gave several recommendations it will be monitoring. First, by Oct. 31, 2019 train staff responding to CPRA requests and develop and implement written policy for CPRA requests.
Second, implement automated records management and request tracking systems by Dec. 31, 2019 and “immediately” implement procedures to comply with the CPRA in the interim.
In a statement today, the City said “it disagrees” with the findings, it “supports the public’s right to access,” and has “established new practices that are advancing modern practices for records management.”
“These conditions are not uncommon in other municipalities,” said the City. “The … review lacked municipal benchmarking with other cities… Contrary to the report’s incorrect findings, the City remains compliant.”
The statement noted that City Manager Deanna Santana tagged this as a City “gap area” in early 2018 and has reiterated it since then.
The City will provide a formal response in August or early September.
Read the full report here: CGJ City of Santa Clara Final Report
Read the City’s full response here: Statement concerning Civil Grand Jury Report on Public Records Access
When I first filed this with the grand jury… I did it for journalists, residents, watchdogs, and lastly to prove that things are broken in Santa Clara. I want to thank the grand jury for their thorough report but I feel it lacks consequences and repercussions.
Current administration hangs their hat on transparency and attacks stadium management for not presenting documents, that’s like the pot calling the kettle black. it’s like the blind leading the blind and management in the city and stadium needs to be replaced, our city needs a fresh start.
Transparency is key in government and I am embarrassed to say Santa Clara has failed to deliver that transparency …let alone follow orders from the grand jury and have every disregard for the law.
This leads me to believe that with the lack of the city cooperating, sam singer declining to be interviewed by investigators it makes me feel that if there is smoke there is fire and it leaves the story to be continued.
The lack of complying begs to question who really is running the city and it is possibly in major disorder. I hope this is just the beginning for not only Santa Clara but other cities to keeping their house in order.
There needs to be solutions to fix these problems, first …Where is the accountability … and what are the consequences? The city’s response is an insult and direct lie to the people and California law by trying to frame their own narrative.
there needs to be teeth behind this entire thing to show the people are in charge and not a select few…..
So with that I ask for the resignation of city manager Deanna Santana who has a checkered history locally with other cities. Her management should have been more attentive and transparent with the grand jury. I also call for the resignation of management in the public records department for failure to be organized or modernized in a quicker time frame. Working class Americans have deadlines our government should have them too. It is time to fix the failures and time to turn a new leaf.
This proves our city cannot line item the truth or adjust it