So, I recently wrote this thing for the Inside Tucson Business (miss them already) about eroding transparency in local government. I was mostly pointing out what is going wrong with Tucson City government regarding this subject. And I did a by-the-way mention of Pima County government at the end of my column.
Apparently, I struck a nerve.
And so, bam, there was a quick response. Not by City Manager Richard Miranda. Not by the Mayor or any Council Members. It was from Pima County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry. Again, I only mentioned the County guys a little at the end.
But, it was enough to motivate Mr. Huckelberry to defend his peeps.
I’m thinking we should just turns this thing into a positive. I don’t want to know why there was such a quick and defensive reaction from the guys I barely mentioned. I leave that to an investigative journalist – if you can find one in town that has not lost his/her job these days – to dig into it and find out.
So, Pima County Sups, here is your advice:
- First, move your meetings to a weekend night. Have your “call to the audience” at a time a poor slob can attend. Like 5:30pm, when most people can come by after work. Even if you have to start a little earlier in the afternoon, you can at least do a cousin of the City’s study session early on but offer “call to the audience” at a decent time when everyone can attend. This early morning, weekday meeting stuff has to go.
- Make this meeting on any day but Tuesday. You see, this is when TUSD and the City of Tucson meet. We can’t be everywhere at once. And you don’t want people to think you are doing this on purpose: that is, ensuring you will only have a portion of the public attend your meetings due to all the other meetings happening at the same time. We don’t want that, right?
- Stop getting rid of Board of Supervisor meetings DVDs after one year and have a copy at all libraries available, not just at the Joel D. Valdez Main Library . And, by the way, do you really not have enough space to store these DVDs? If you want to, I can give up a corner of my garage for storage of some off these razor thin disks.
- Make your “Transparency” link, well, more transparent. I know it sounds cool to just say you are transparent and leave it at that, but most people won’t assume they can just click on that link and watch a recording of a Board of Supervisors meeting. Right now, once you click on that link, you have to go down a list of lot’s of stuff - yes important stuff, but, still, lot’s of stuff – to get to the meetings part. And even then, once you scroll to the bottom, and you finely find “Viewers may have access to current video and auto recording of recent Board meetings for a 90 day period”, you then have to click on “access” to get these videos. Come on. Can we just have a button on your home page that says “View Board Meetings Here“. How hard is that?
- Finally, revisit Supervisor Ally Miller’s proposal to make all Board Meetings available online and on demand beyond one year. Again, how hard is that? The City of Tucson does it. They have their problems but at least they have this part down. So should you.
Seriously, though, open government should not be a spectator sport. You shouldn’t just do what is the bare minimum, what is just legal. Good parenting, for example, doesn’t mean you should just provide three hot meals, a shower and a bed. That just makes you a parent. Not a good parent.
Take the opportunity to make Pima County Board meetings more open, more transparent, more available for us to participate, that way you can be considered good at being transparent and open.
Give us the mic. It belongs to us.