Re: George Wooding v. Recreation and Park
(Commonwealth Club of California Panel Discussion)
The Sunshine Ordinance Task Force voted in favor of Mr. Wooding's complaint. Contact us for a copy of the Order
of Determination. This order will be heard on Tuesday, September 27th, 2011 at the Sunshine Ordinance Task Force. Go
on-line for the agenda and schedule.
If you have difficult
reading the on-line documents, email us, and we will send you the relevant documents -- be sure to specify a request for the
SOTF background documents.
In March 2011, the Golden Gate Park Preservation Alliance and SF Ocean Edge brought together a panel to discuss the potential
impacts of proposed development projects on Golden Gate Park. The Park is beloved by many throughout the Bay Area, and this
was our effort to inform the general public in a broader forum than that allowed in government hearings. The Commonwealth
Club was chosen due to their commitment to free speech and their willingness to explore a wide variety of issues. (See the
attached poster describing the program and the panel members.) The Club approved the program, notice went out to the general
public, and people started to register for the event.
We were therefore surprised in late
April when the panel was modified by the Club, to include a member of the Recreation and Park Commission. The Recreation and
Park Commissioners and Recreation and Park Department (RPD) staff have unlimited time to address the public at Commission
meetings and in other government venues, and the addition of this person meant that the amount of time that we had in our
own forum would be curtailed. However, in the spirit of cooperation, we accepted this addition.
In an effort to learn more about what had caused the change, panelist George Wooding filed a Sunshine Request to RPD asking
for any Department communications about the program. The Recreation and Park Department reply denied that there were any documents.
However, according to Mr. Wooding’s subsequent complaint, e-mails were provided by other sources. In these communications,
City employees, a Recreation and Park Commissioner, and a member of a Recreation and Park public-private partnership, attempted
to not only discredit the panel members and to influence the content of the panel discussion but also, in one instance, to
have the panel cancelled. The attached document is one page from Mr. Wooding’s supplement to his complaint, which illustrates
the extent that the Department of Recreation and Park went in trying to influence information provided for the public benefit.
We applaud the Commonwealth Club for upholding the principles of free speech and proceeding with the panel discussion.