The Silicon Valley Voice

Power To Your Voice

Milestones: You Have a Right!

Is the Santa Clara Weekly just another local newspaper with a grudge?

There are comments that we are continually taking the Council, Mayor and Manager to task.

As a newspaper, we are like the other 150 newspapers in California, specific to the news in our community.

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We have no need to make up news since there are so many attention-getting events and activities.

Many of these events involve residents, students, non-profits, businesses, business leaders and, of course, politicians.

It just happens that our City Council majority has emasculated the fabric and structure of our City and that makes news. As you might imagine, it has not all been good.

It is the responsibility of an independent newspaper to report the news. Our reporters have done and continue to do that.

My opinion column is sometimes a little more provocative and that is what opinions are.

Contrary to the views by many residents, we are not owned or funded by the City.

The Weekly maintains its presence and importance through local support by advertisers, subscribers and legal notices.

This allows us to maintain our independence and openly report facts.

We are not alone.

There are still 150 active newspapers in California. At a recent conference in Sacramento, we learned that each one faces similar challenges as those encountered by the Weekly.

In defense of the public and their right to know, legislatures, including Congress, have created laws requiring cities to reply to Public Record Act Requests.

It was interesting to learn how far some cities would go to prevent the public from having access to certain records.

The bottom line is, several cities are similar in their PRA response as we receive in Santa Clara.

We commonly share the desire to inform the public and reveal transactions, policies, actions and issues not openly discussed or readily available.

It is not uncommon to receive back a PRA response from the City that states “Protected by attorney-client privilege,” which is one obstacle used to keep information from the public.

Another, well used avoidance is redaction. Many parts of a document can be blacked out if it is considered by the City Attorney to reveal confidential material.

Many cities have attempted to avoid divulging information to the press, however, newspapers have nearly always won when these issues have been litigated. But cities know they are not going to be sued on every issue; yet, they will be sued.

We often wonder why public information is so difficult to obtain for the public. As a resident and voter, you are entitled to know what our Council and City are doing with your money.

Because of your support, we will continue to protect your right to know.

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