Sunlight Weekly Round-up: Montana uses cost to clamp down on transparency

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Zubedah Nanfuka

May 20, 2011, 6:03:28 PM5/20/11

Hi folks,
Take a look at this week's posts about transparency. My personal favorite is New York city's Road Map for the Digital City, but I see open government advocates have their work cut out in Montana's recent resistance to transparency. Find the post at Sunlight's blog:

Last week, Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer vetoed a bill that would have created a website with the state’s budget and spending details. Proposed by Tom Burnett, HB 444 
would have enabled the public to search, retrieve and download information about the state finances including state budgets, revenues, appropriations and expenditures. But Gov. Schweitzer thwarted the bill with claims that at an estimated $400,000, the website would be too costly and would have “no investment on return for the tax payer”. Michael Noyes writes more on Montana Watchdog.

The city of New york unveiled the “Road Map for the Digital City” -- a project that will feature APIs for city data and plans that will change the way government information is presented online. Open government entrepreneurs are optimistic that the Road Map will give the city’s startups an advantage through integrating media and technology while widening access to wifi in public parks. Anil Dash, who is confident the web is a public space, adds that this would be a valuable opportunity for citizens to be engaged through technology. Read more on Anil Dash.

Last week, we highlighted a post that mentioned Oregon’s move to strengthen their public records. Now, A.J. O’Connell is writing that the opposition from some government agencies including the League of Oregon Cities, that  has hired lobbyists to try and prevent the bill from becoming law, may cause a problem. His attempt at reaching out to the state’s Attorney General to show that Creswell, his city, is not aligned with the lobbyists intentions, have been swept under the rug. What is he hoping to do next to save open government in Portland? Find out on A.J. for Creswell.

A bill that would limit the reach of public records in Raleigh, NC was proposed on the grounds that productivity of government workers searching for, organizing and providing information requested by the public, will be reduced. Daniel O’Leary is proposing an easier way: turning the documents into electronic format! Through LinDoc which creates electronic e-forms, that connect directly to a universal repository, the public and reporters are able to search and find public records for themselves, eliminating the need for government staffers for this task. In cases where some records have to be paid for, O’Leary recommends using WebLink which is already being used by other states. Read more of his compelling argument on Capture Expert blog.
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