By Molly McLaughlin
On October 23, Irvine will take another step to enhance local government transparency, when our City Council considers approving an Irvine Sunshine Ordinance. The goal of the proposed Ordinance is to assure adequate review of various related agenda materials by the public before items are considered by the City Council and its commissions and advisory boards.
Simply put, there will be quadruple the time to contemplate government action before that action takes place. Here’s how:
California’s open meeting law, the Brown Act, requires an agenda be posted 72 hours in advance of a regular meeting. The City has generally extended such requirements by posting five days before each meeting. However, the Irvine Sunshine Ordinance, if enacted by the City Council, would expand the agenda review time to 12 days, along with several elements that include staff reports and supplemental information that are part of the decision-making process. While there are exceptions, a 12-day window provides every community member the logistical and timely opportunity to thoroughly review agenda items. The chances for all interested parties grow exponentially for pre-meeting discussions, sharing of information, and asking of questions. The pulse of an entire community can be felt across 12 days.
The City of Irvine’s new Transparency Portal, already up on our main webpage, is another sign that Irvine is committed to the type of visibility all government watchdogs now demand – from this newspaper to the community member who wants to be fully informed, whether or not she or he attends a City Council meeting.
Our Transparency Portal (cityofirvine.org/transparency) contains direct links to how the business of Irvine is run, from City records to budget documents to financial reports. The City of Irvine is embracing enhanced transparency tools because we firmly believe that visibility of government decisions and government spending provides the accountability that a city needs to fulfill its role to its citizens. When a city is fiscally and ethically responsible, and a community can easily and ably chart those successes, everyone wins.
Over the years, the City of Irvine has increased its efforts to provide timely information to an educated community. For example, Irvine was one of the first Orange County cities to post executive compensation on the homepage.
The October 23 Sunshine Ordinance proposal is the second of two major steps forward: The Transparency Portal on the City’s homepage is a sign of the times, and the Irvine Sunshine Ordinance before the City Council would ensure that the time is now.
Molly McLaughlin is City Clerk for the City of Irvine.