The porch loves to chew the fat on those “public bodies” and what they are up to. Problem is, the sun shines brightly on some of them (by their own choosing) and much less on those that like to work in secret. Today’s rant is our wish list for those legislators who are still in session up there at the Capitol. Our wish for them is to spray a little antiseptic on the websites of those “public bodies.”
Right now, state law requires public bodies to put the following on their websites:
1. Names of the members of their governing board.
2. Date, time and place of their regularly scheduled meetings.
3. Agendas of regular meetings.
4. Administrative rules adopted pursuant to the Administrative Procedures Act.
5. Proposed administrative rules pursuant to APA.
6. Statutes which effect the public body or its operations (whew….. we didn’t know this existed. This could be a huge list for some public bodies…. seems pretty unreasonable to the porch dwellers.)
7. Statutes the public “might find useful” in interacting with the public body (what the heck? Unenforceable and really just verbiage to make someone feel like they did something for government transparency.)
That’s it folks. That’s all the website of a public body has to make available to comply with current law.
Our “Transparency, Antiseptic, Let the Sun Shine In” Wish List
1. They should be required to HAVE a website. If you are a public body, then, you have certain things that you need to do. Having a website in this day and age is one of them.
2. MINUTES. Why in the world does the law not require the posting of minutes on a website? Absolutely unbelievable that this is not required.
3. Special meeting and Emergency Meeting Agendas. We totally understand that there may not be time to post a special or emergency meeting agenda prior to the meeting, but come on, why not require those agendas to be posted on the website after the fact, say, within 30 days. That way a reporter, snooper, discusser, or cusser can look at the website and have a complete picture of what the agency has “publicly” discussed and what they have voted on. Simple law change. Please make it happen.
4. Rules, regulations, policies, ordinances, codes. The law requires a state agency to post its rules. That same language doesn’t translate for a county, municipality, school district, governmental trust, rural water district, etc. In this internet age, if the porch can figure out how to post a blog, a public entity with a website can put its policies, rules, municipal code on the website. Simple.
5. One email contact. Just one. So many of these websites have nowhere to contact someone and send a simple e-mail.
6. BUDGETS. Why can’t we have this information available with a click? Spray the antiseptic please…..
7. AUDITS. For goodness sakes, this should be mandatory. All audits, regular and special. Kept on there for at least 5 years.
8. An email link for making an open records request. Every website should have a simple online open records request portal. That portal should have a way to pay for the electronic records and those records should be scanned and e-mailed back to the discusser/cusser requester.
9. A searchable database of paid warrants. I know the porch is reaching here, but, why not? They are public records. Why can’t we have this? It is public money. Let the sun shine in.
10. Sanctions for failure to comply with the website requirements. This law has no teeth. Transparency should be mandatory, with a cost if you choose to ignore it.
The porch is not holding its collective breath on these, but these are no-brainers.
We will be sitting and rocking and waiting……..
And, by the way, we haven’t figured out yet if our porch e-mail is on this darned website, so you can contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.