Sunlight Weekly Roundup: “The right of the people to know what their government is doing is fundamental to democracy”

  • California Councilwoman Teresa Barth recently wrote an open letter publicizing her support for increased government transparency. In the letter, Barth maintains that Encinitas, California needs stronger transparency laws. She writes, “At the June 10, 2009 City Council meeting, I proposed a citizen’s task force to work with staff to craft a Sunshine Ordinance for Encinitas. My colleagues said the city was already in compliance with existing laws and a Sunshine Ordinance was not necessary. I believe we should set a higher goal. We should strive to do the ‘Best Not the Least.'” She urges all citizens to tell the city council to support a Sunshine Ordinance. She argues, “The right of the people to know what their government is doing is fundamental to democracy.” For the whole story, check out her post on Coastal News.
  • In a blog post, Gwyneth Doland, executive director of the New Mexico Foundation for Open Government,  reassess the state of New Mexico transparency after Sunshine Week. Some of  the guidelines Doland wants New Mexico to adopt are having public meeting agendas available 72 hours in advance (instead of the current 24 hours) and improved access to information about about schools, roads, taxes and other public works. Doland maintains, “Being open and transparent isn’t always easy for government to do, but it’s always the right thing do.” For more information, see her post on NM Politics.
  • The Kentucky attorney general has decided that the Kentucky State University Board of Regents violated the state’s Open Meetings Act earlier this year. According to the blog, “The Finance and Administration Committee and the Audit Committee jointly held a closed session meeting on Jan. 27 to discuss an external audit. Before entering the closed session, the committee failed to pass a formal motion to go into closed session and cite the reason for the session, as required by the Open Meetings Act.” Board of Regents Chairwoman Laura Douglas maintained that the meeting was not illegal and that the committee went into a closed session under an exception to requirement of public session that focuses on threats to public safety. The attorney general maintains that the exception was “clearly inapplicable and the meeting was illegal.” For the entire story, see Christine de Briffault’s post on the Kentucky Open Government Blog.
  • The Sunshine Review recently  evaluated state websites in Kansas. The Wichita and Derby school districts and Sedgwick County were among nine Kansas governments recognized for having transparent websites. Sunshine Review uses information such as budgets, meetings, lobbying, financial audits, contracts, academic performance, public records and taxes to determine the website’s level of transparency. For the whole story, read Phillip Brownlee’s post on WE Blog. 
What do you think of these local transparency happenings? Are there any transparency stories breaking in your state? Let us know in the comments!
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