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Online Community Lesson

 

Public Records:  How and Where to Get Them

Student-authored and teacher-edited

          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 scientific research.

            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.

If you answer the multiple-choice questions below and e-mail to lessonanswers@mymontebello.com 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. 

February 1, 2007

 

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    HOME  | "E-News" | Life's Problems  | "Montebello Oil" | Open Suggestion | Public Documents | Setting an Example | Young Thinkers | Project Instructions
                        Issues           and Solutions             Activities                    Box