Society of Professional Journalists Honor Yee with Sunshine Award

March 20, 2014

SAN FRANCISCO – For his efforts to bring greater government transparency, Senator Leland Yee (D-San Francisco/San Mateo) will be honored with the Public Official Award by the Northern California Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ) on Thursday, March 20, at 6:00 PM, at the City Club in San Francisco.

“I am honored to receive this award from the Society of Professional Journalists,” said Yee.  “I’m proud to share the stage with so many who have done so much to keep our government open and accountable.”

Yee received the award in recognition of his opposition to efforts to weaken the California Public Records Act by loosening disclosure requirements for local governments.

Yee has authored numerous bills designed to make government more transparent. SB 751 extended the Brown Act to cover intergovernmental agencies such as ABAG and SCAG. SB 1001 raised lobbying fees in order to fund improvements to the Cal-Access system, which tracks lobbyist and campaign finance spending. SB 1003 made it easier to bring action against governmental bodies that violated the Brown Act. SB 8 subjected auxiliary organizations that perform government functions at the University of California, California State University, and California Community Colleges to the California Public Records Act (CPRA). SB 650 provided legal protections to UC and CSU employees who report wrongdoing. SB 438, SB 1370 & AB 2581 extended free speech protections for students and employees at high schools, charter schools, and public universities. SB 786 protected the right of individuals to enforce open government laws by prohibiting public entities from recovering attorney’s fees. SB 1696 ensured greater access to government contracts as well as audits and reviews of public agencies; SB 190, the Higher Education Governance Accountability Act, required all executive compensation packages at the UC and CSU to be voted on in an open session as well as to fully disclose the compensation package with accompanying rationale, allowed the public to comment on such action items, and made public advisory group meetings that deal with compensation matters.

As a member of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, Yee also co-authored the city’s Sunshine Ordinance.

Yee is the past recipient of the Sunshine Award from the Society of Professional Journalists, the Freedom of Information Award by the California Newspaper Publishers Association; Champion of Journalism Education Award by the California Journalism Education Coalition; Beacon Award by the First Amendment Coalition; and the Friend of Scholastic Journalism Award by the Journalism Education Association.

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Contact: Dan Lieberman

(916) 651-4008