Sunlight weekly round-up: When voting leaves a paper trail


Now here is an interesting argument about the legitimacy of the term “open government”. In her “Why “Open government” is terrible branding (or whatever happened to participation and collaboration?)”, Nancy Scola questions the use of the buzz word while pointing out the Obama administration’s attempts at using technology to show accountability. But if you are like me and often inter-changeably use open government with transparency, Scola advises that we should instead engage in innovative ways that expand the term to include transparency, participation and collaboration, instead of just playing a watchdog role that limits us to keeping tabs on what should be transparent. Rebbecca Wilson shows us how we can do this…

  • Wilson makes a compelling case for why Waukesha county in Wisconsin needs transparency and accountability in elections. She details the recent race for the state’s Supreme Court justice where both candidates are now considering a recount. Her discussion highlights the importance of not entrusting an entire electoral process with only one election official — as it was with the county’s clerk Kathy Nickolaus — because such a process breeds public distrust in the system. And in a way of offering solutions, she suggests a routine audit of the electoral process especially when paper ballots are used and reporting election results on election night. More on Save our Votes.
  • Westchester County in New York is looking for transparency in little know places – small contracts. In the spirit of letting the taxpayer know where their money is going, legislator Sheila Marcotte is asking the county’s board of legislators to put the small contracts (which add up to big money) on line. She hopes that by so doing, the often disguised county budget spending will be put to light. Gerald McKinstry shares more on Yorktown and Cortlandt region.
  • Arizona has discovered a way out of preventing bankruptcy triggered by payroll obligations and promoting transparency at the same time. Inspired by a Goldwater Institute report that recommended a method of bidding out city services that requires the bidder to take on the responsibility of employee benefits,  SB SB1322 has been introduced to address the state’s fiscal status. Goldwater’s Nick Dranias, who is certain that this is a “managed competition approach,” is asking Governor Jan Brewer to support the bill. Why is Dranias sure it will also give the public access to information of exactly how much city services cost? It’s all on the State Brief.