SAN FRANCISCO - After the state Assembly voted to undo part of a budget bill that would weaken California's open-records law, Gov. Jerry Brown hustled backstage following a speech here Thursday morning, ignoring a trail of reporters.
His spokesman, Evan Westrup, said the Democratic governor had "nothing to add" about the controversy.
Brown is expected to sign legislation making part of the California Public Records Act optional for local agencies. He signaled his opposition Wednesday to a bill by Assembly Democrats to reverse proposed changes to the law. The governor suggested that he would instead support a plan by Senate Democrats to put a constitutional amendment on the ballot next year seeking to restore the full effect of the act, but without requiring the state to reimburse local agencies for the cost of compliance.
"We all agree that Californians have a right to know and should continue to have prompt access to public records, and I support enshrining these protections in California's constitution," Brown said in a prepared statement Wednesday.
Brown's address Thursday morning was at a National Nurses United conference in San Francisco. The organization's California affiliate, the California Nurses Association, was a major supporter of Brown's election in 2010 and initiative to raise taxes two years later.
Brown spoke broadly about climate change and income inequality, familiar subjects for him.
"We have issues that are here today in this legislative session, and then we have issues that transcend the issues of today but are going to affect our lives in a very, very profound way," he said. "And sometimes we can get so caught up in the now that we forget about the tsunami that's coming at us."
PHOTO: Gov. Jerry Brown speaks at a news conference at the Capitol on Jan. 10, 2013. The Sacramento Bee/Randall Benton