Monday, December 31, 2007

Orem, Eagle Mountain Score High on Open Government Test

Daily Herald:

Public information on the activities of planning commissions and city councils varies widely across Utah Valley. Some cities provide agendas with extremely minimal information, stating only that "recreation" or undefined jargon terms such as "CDBG" will be discussed, as a recent agenda in Goshen stated, or simply "airport loan" or "center for the arts" listed on a recent Provo agenda. Such opaqueness makes it difficult for residents to know not only how elected officials are spending taxpayer money, but also how city actions may affect residents.

Other cities are much more transparent. Eagle Mountain and Orem both regularly provide agendas reaching 10 pages or more, containing detailed explanations making it easier for residents to know at a glance where money is being spent and on-the-ground consequences of city actions. Most, if not all, cities provide extremely detailed packets of information -- sometimes numbering 100 pages or more -- regarding the agendas to their city leaders, but have sometimes charged the public and media fees to get the same information. Other cities post these packets on their Web sites for free public access.
In the same vein, Salt Lake County residents have a great tracking resource, and citizens of Cache Valley can now access council podcasts via KVNU's For The People.

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