Sunlight Weekly Round-up: Local transparency starts with you!

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The Open Government Dialogue, a product of the National Academy of Public Administration stresses the importance of increasing the quality and quantity of citizenry enagement in local government: using the bottom-up approach. The idea is not to solicit the quantity of citizen engagement, but also the quality of their understanding of major issues.  We should move from ‘my backyard’ concept and get involved in sustained local programs that maintain our interest and ensure better contributions on how we can improve them. Indeed we could start by looking at our local leaders for ways to engage them in dialogue, just as Laurie Masterson did…

  • When Laurie Masterson set out to find facts behind a salary hike of a new government hire, she instead got the skinny on the Arkansas House budget down-sizing. Now Masterson is demonstrating how citizens can be engaged in the activities of their local governments. See how she lays out the steps to take when you come across transparency related issues concerning leaders in your community. More on American Majority.
  • A new rule is improving fiscal transparency in Texas: a 48 hour layout before senators have to vote on a summary of the final budget agreement. After failing to increase the number of days in which the senate has to review bills from two to five, Senator Kirk Watson hopes that this new rule will be a good compromise and bring more sunshine into the Texas budget proses. Curt Olson has more on the Texas Budget Source.
  • Art Pedroza, the founder of the first political blog in Orange County, California, is raising a contentious issue in the city of Santa Ana. In his “When does the call for more transparency at city hall become stalking?” he questions whether some information about public officials should be made public. While he praises the usefulness of posting council meetings online, he cautions us to use discretion in our requests for public officials’ information. See more on New Santa Ana.
  • The first week of the Hawaii legislative session is already revealing some flaws. As John Temple points out, the current legislature, ethics and lack of transparency are making it impossible for citizens to know about their lawmakers’ conflicts of interest as they make decisions on public policy. While comparing how Hawaii ethics laws are faring alongside laws in other states, Temple references Robert Brown’s article,  which suggests that this may be because information about lawmakers’ source of income is not available on the government’s website. See how he questions government officials’ commitment to transparency while providing a forum for Hawaiians and lawmakers to discuss issues affecting them on Civil Beat.
  • The Oregon Department of Administrative Services is updating their transparency website with 2010 budget information. As a member of the Transparency Oregon Advisory Commission, Jon Bartholomew shows how the website is going to make government spending more transparent. Throw in your two cents on how it can improve at Blue Oregon.
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