February 1, 2007
“Forget injuries, never forget kindnesses.”
Chinese philosopher & reformer (551 BC - 479 BC)
Public Records: How and Where to Get Them
The Eleventh Commandment, Part 4
About Montebello E-News
and My Montebello
Records: How and Where to Get Them
The California Public
Records Act allows public records to be viewed by anyone. What are public
records? Public records are defined as “any writing containing information
relating to the conduct of the public’s business prepared, owned, used or
retained by any state or local agency regardless of physical form or
characteristics.” In other words public records are documents like birth
and marriage certificates, court records, and minutes of public meetings.
There are some public
records which cannot be viewed by the public. These include test questions,
confidential records released to any agency, and data gathered for
Public records can be viewed
online or by visiting city hall. When visiting city hall, you have to fill
out an application and wait ten days in order to view any document. Access
to documents is free. You may not take a document with you, but you may get
a copy of the document. If you wish to obtain a copy, you have to pay a fee
of six to twenty-five cents per page.
A good public-records
website would be www.governmentregistry.org. Be careful when searching for
public records online, because there is always the risk of being deceived.
(See the essay entitled “The Eleventh Commandment”, in this newsletter.)
Other than that, enjoy your public-records search.
answer the multiple-choice questions below and e-mail to
firstname.lastname@example.org with “Lesson answers” in the subject
field, you will be credited toward a “certificate of recognition in
community affairs” to be awarded in 2007 by a local nonprofit organization.
1. Public records can be obtained
(a) through the Internet.
(b) by visiting city hall.
(c) both (a) and (b).
2. What would be the best plan to save
time and money with regard to public records?
(a) Make a list of desired documents and
ask government officials to obtain and post documents at their websites.
(b) Ask neighbors what they consider
important, obtain those documents, and post them at a community website.
(c) Ask neighbors what they consider
important, obtain those documents, and give the documents to the public
library for classification and display.
COMMANDMENT, PART 4:
SHOULD WE ASK
Семь раз отме́рь, оди́н отре́жь.
Translation from Russian: Measure seven
times, cut once.
We have stated the eleventh commandment, “We shall not pass
judgment or take action without confirming the information which has incited
or attracted us”, and we have suggested that the best means for most of us
to follow this commandment would be if each of us joined a group which came
together regularly, enjoyably, to put this commandment into practice.
But is the eleventh
commandment much ado about nothing? Even if we formed our group of family
or close friends and met once a week for coffee and conversation, would the
benefit to be gained justify the expenditure of time and dime?
Let us look to the November,
2006, elections in California, when a proposition on the ballot would have
greatly increased the tax on cigarettes. The proposition was defeated by
well-crafted propaganda on television. I recall two key arguments by
opponents: (1) only ten percent of the tax money would go toward reducing
cigarette smoking and (2) there were special interests behind the
proposition. I wonder whether, if we had followed the eleventh commandment,
the proposition would have prevailed at the polls, because we would have
learned that (1) tax money not spent on reducing smoking would have gone
into children’s program and keeping emergency rooms open [have we forgotten
that the number of emergency rooms has decreased over the past decade?] and
(2) the special interests—the supposed villains—were no other than
the American Lung Association and the American Cancer Society, either of
whom I would invite to dinner.
example is closer to home. Months ago, a woman came to the paralegal office
where I worked. She needed help, because she owed money to a finance
company. Why could she not pay? She had received a letter from some outfit
in Canada saying that she had won substantially in a lottery. She was to
submit a processing fee before she cashed the check enclosed with the
congratulatory letter. She submitted the fee to the Canadian outfit and,
with her “winning check”, financed the purchase of a car. To her most
unpleasant surprise, the check bounced. And was the outfit in Canada
anywhere to be found? Of course not. Was the finance company about to
forgive her the failure to pay? Nothing in the law of which I knew said
that the company would have to forgive her failure to pay.
There was a different
kind of scam last week, when the municipal police department put out a crime
alert by telephone, about people who allegedly needed help cashing lottery
winnings, because they were undocumented immigrants. They would steal money
from the elderly through the scam. Were the criminals caught? Not if the
police had to put out a crime alert.
And there was the example
from the Internet, mentioned in the online community lesson entitled “Who Is
Playing Poker with Your Life?”, from the January 18 issue of
E-News, available at www.mymontebello.com.
So, the list
of reasons for the eleventh commandment can be rather long.
Worrisome. Frightening. Enraging.
An important point is that
if we let ourselves be fooled, there is little, if any, recourse, to set
things right. Will our state hold a multi-million dollar election because
the opponents to the proposition lied? Of course not. Will the police or
some government agency devote scarce resources to chasing cunning criminals
when bigger problems like murders and drugs demand their attention? Of
course not. Would it not be the height of arrogance or the depth of naïveté
for us to expect otherwise? Would it not be wise for us to avoid unpleasant
surprises, by following the eleventh commandment—religiously and
immediately? Imagine how much more happy and secure our personal lives
and community would be if we did so.
FOR EVERYONE. Rummage sale starts
February 2, 2007, and runs through February 4, 2007. The sale is going to
be at the Montebello United Methodist Church, located at 1220 West Whittier
Boulevard, Montebello 90640. For more information, you can contact the
church at (323) 728-8179. From E-News team 1, squad 2.
Montebello City Planning Commission meeting, Monday, February 5, 2007, 7
p.m., city-council chamber. For a copy of the agenda before the meeting
date, call the city planning department, (323) 887-1200.
Montebello City Traffic and Safety Commission meeting, Wednesday, February
7, 2007, 7 p.m., city-council chamber. For a copy of the agenda before the
meeting date, call the city engineering department, (323) 887-1200.
Many years ago in
Scotland, a new game was invented.
It was ruled "Gentlemen only, ladies forbidden", and
thus the word "golf" entered into the English language.
E-News and My Montebello
To learn about this newsletter, Montebello E-News, and
the accompanying, growing Web site, “My Montebello”, visit
www.mymontebello.com. Also, you will find instructions and contact
information for submitting announcements for publication in this newsletter.