Sunlight Weekly Round-up: Arizona Transparency takes a Christmas break!

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A recent report on how states are doing in their subsidy programs has been blog-fodder nationwide. But some of the most interesting topics that have made the rounds have been from bloggers who realize that the term transparency needs to transition from being a rhetoric used by public officials running for office to actions that actually help citizens. For these bloggers, it is not enough to just sit back and wait for what your state government promised. By recommending ways in which government transparency can improve, they are encouraging citizens to take charge of the situation and be more anticipatory. Still not motivated? See how Craig McDermott and Kathie Obradovich do it.

  • The Joint Legislative Income Tax Credit Review Committee in Arizona  will be meeting to review income tax credits but the public is not invited. On the Blog for Arizona.com, Craig McDermott expresses concern about the state’s legislature that has taken a “Christmas break from transparency”.
  • Illinois has the most transparent subsidy programs in the nation. According to a report dubbed  “Show us the Subsidies” by Good Jobs First, the open practices of five Illinois subsidy programs, including the Economic Development for a Growing Economy Tax Credit and the Large Business Development Assistance program, have made the state the highest ranking in subsidy disclosure. Micah Maidenberg details how the state is  providing information about its economic development programs and subsidies on the Progress Illinois Blog.
  • Political opinion blogger Kathie Obradovich is making a call for increasing public access to Iowa’s state government. In her “give people access to their government” post, she traces Governor-elect Terry Branstad’s promise of transparency, which includes a desire to bridge the gap between residents and their government. Obradovich, however, suggests open-mic forums, budget clarity and campaign finance disclosure are additional, complimentary ways Iowans can be given better access to their goverment. See how she describes these ways and others on the Iowa Politics.
  • The policy committee of Tennessee Emergency Communications Board voted in support of making 911 calls inaccessible to the public. The Board cited the need to protect the privacy of callers but JR Lind believes that this proposal “could diminish public oversight of local emergency operations”. Referring to Frank Gibson’s article Lind cautions that this could be a year of “closing” government openness, as previous actions include the removal of transparency meetings and other public notices from newspapers, a move that leaves the state’s websites as the sole source of news about their government. More on Post Politics.
  • Beginning February 17, the Kansas Nominating Commission will allow the public to attend interviews of candidates for the Supreme Court and Court of Appeals judicial positions. But blogger Kathy Ostrowski is not convinced that this is enough. She thinks that the commission should not reserve the right to adjourn to executive session during the interviews and that citizens should be given a chance to provide an input in the questions posed to the candidates. While blogging on Kansas for Life, she thinks this is just a response to “citizen dissatisfaction with a closed system of lawyer-controlled appointments of the top judges.”
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