A meeting of the Wichita City Council reveals that the city does not care about open and transparent government, despite the claims of leaders such as Mayor Carl Brewer.
Posts published in “Open records”
The City of Wichita is burying an issue related to its refusal to act in a genuinely open and transparent manner.
The City of Wichita decides again to be open and transparent on its own terms, and to not follow the Kansas Open Records Act.
At Tuesday's meeting Wichita City Council, the city may take action that appears to advance the goal of making more information about government available to citizens. The proposed action, however, simply acknowledges intent to comply with one provision of the Kansas Open Records Act (KORA). The city still avoids full compliance with this law.
I'd like to see to Kansas Open Records Act (KORA) strengthened in some way.
Recently I asked three quasi-governmental organizations in Wichita for some records. They declined, stating that they are not subject to the records act. They believe that because their form of organization is non-profit -- several different forms of 501c status -- they do not have to follow the KORA.
During today's meeting of the Sedgwick County Commission, commissioners awarded funds to an organization without requiring accountability and transparency.
Government transparency in Kansas is determined largely by open records and open meetings laws which state lofty goals but offer many loopholes and exemptions and few penalties for violations of the laws.
The Kansas Open Records Act (KORA) starts off well. "It is declared to be the public policy of the state that public records shall be open for inspection by any person unless otherwise provided by this act, and this act shall be liberally construed and applied to promote such policy."
Open records and meetings in Kansas are in the news.
"An open and transparent government is essential to the democratic process. Under Kansas law, citizens have the right to access public records and observe many meetings where decisions are made that affect our state."
That quote is taken from the Kansas Attorney General’s web site. Unfortunately, the second sentence isn’t really true. Kansans may technically have the right to access some public records (those not protected by more than 300 exemptions the Legislature has granted), but too often we lack the ability because of government opposition.
The Flint Hills Center for Public Policy has produced another important investigative report, this time looking at the difficulty citizens and journalists can encounter when requesting records covered under the Kansas Open Records Act.
"What started out as research into property valuations in Kansas has turned into a frustrating protracted battle over differing perspectives on open government. Denials and delays have slowed or prevented examination of government fiscal policy as budget and taxation issues were being addressed in the legislature. Access was further frustrated by decades-old computer technology."
The Kansas Meadowlark tells how on a recent trip to Washington, he wasn't able to use digital photography to capture records.
Sunshine Review, a site devoted to government transparency, openness and accountability at the state and local level, has competed an effort to evaluate all United States counties on their transparency.
The way to make a government responsible is not simply to enlist the services of responsible men and women, or to sign laws that ensure…
The Kansas Meadowlark has an informational page featuring descriptions of websites about open records and information about government. The link is kansasmeadowlark.com/open-records.
It seems that citizens all over the country have trouble with public school districts and records requests. Sometime you have to battle not only the school district, but also third parties such as teachers unions.
Paul Chesser of Climate Strategies Watch has done some investigative work seeking to understand the role of The Center for Climate Strategies in Alaska. (The…
At the imaginatively-named Bobby Rozzell’s Blog the author has a suggestion for Wichita government. Here’s the idea: Some smart local leader is going to figure…
When a citizen makes a records requests and the records that were received don’t match the request, what should the citizen do? The records I…
I have been recruited to participate in the Sunshine Blogger Project, an effort to gauge the compliance of the nations' governors with open records laws as they exist in each state. I wrote about my experience with the office of Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius in this article: Open Records in Kansas.
The letter I received from JaLynn Copp, the Assistant Chief Counsel to Governor Sebelius, was so confusing that I wrote back requesting clarification. I had to communicate this request by writing on the processed fibers of dead trees, which were then delivered to Topeka by carbon-spewing trucks operated by the United States Postal Service, as Ms. Copp did not share an email address with me.