Sunlight Weekly Round-up: Vermont listens to call for transparency


It may not be all that, but the fact that actions from citizens have moved government hard enough for them to create open government initiatives is something to toot about. This is exactly what bloggers like Anne Galloway and Patricia Hart are doing. It is clear from these posts that demand for transparency is driving its supply. But just as citizens’ need for openness determines its provision by government, so should their diligence in ensuring that transparency pledges made by public officials in the heat of electoral excitement are fulfilled, not just partially but in all their entirety.

  • The U.S. Public Interest Research Group (US PIRG) may have ranked Vermont at an F in its transparency report, but the new Governor, Peter Shumlin, is changing that. The governor has issued a proposal that will improve the state’s public records law and give ordinary citizens access to government information. Blogging about Shumlin’s decision, Anne Galloway noted how this could open some doors and bring on new restrictions. She mentions financial malpractice and and increase in lawsuits against public officials who restrict access to government information as triggers to the governor’s decision. Check out how she lays it all out on VTDiggers.
  • BurkaBlog (named for Texas Monthly editor Paul Burka) is buzzing with interesting conversation about Sen. Kirk Watson’s proposal to improve transparency in the Texas budget. However Patricia Hart  feels that genuine transparency requires change in the whole budget adoption process, so she has suggested that all deliberations should be held in public. She puts to task leaders and individual members of the committee working on the budget to become more inclusive and asks the media to cover the meetings more closely.
  • The Department of Transportation in Rhode Island is selective with its access to public records. Apparently,  they only deny access if the purpose of requesting for the records is to sue, favouring media investigation over public inquiry. Ted Nesi believes that this selection should extend to include the general public. Take a look at how he critiques the state’s Public Records Act and maintains that there is a reason why they are called “public records.” Details on WPRI blog.
  • Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam has signed an executive order that will prevent him and his top aides from disclosing how much they earn in outside income.  While quoting an article in the Commercial Appeal, Tom Humphrey blogs that the governor is living up to his electoral promise which was to show his sources of income and not the amounts he is receiving. See how this is affecting transparency in Tennessee on the Humphrey on the Hill.
  • Elected officials in Mooresville County, North Carolina may soon have a new code of conduct if a policy drafted by the town’s attorney, Steve Gambill, is adopted. Spurred by Mayor Chris Montgomery’s recent actions — which Commissioner Mitch Abraham thought were “inappropriate and unacceptable” —  the new code will provide guidance on ethical issues for elected officials. But some city officials are not pleased with this possible change. See how Jaime Gatton details  their reactions on the Gatton Report.
  • The Georgia Legislature is considering hiring an outside company to create new district maps. Blogger Mike Hassinger seconds the idea and thinks that outsourcing the redistricting process may have some benefits. Citing previous attempts of the state to create independent redistricting bodies, Hassinger weighs in on partisan concerns with redistricting and discusses how outsourcing it may cut costs for the state. See how the possibility of lobbyists getting the contracts to this process has stirred quite the conversation on the PeachPundit.