The Republican made a pledge to county residents upon taking office. MWatch covered this, and all of us were honestly looking forward to positive change. So much for dashed hopes. I am not going to go point by point on their pledge today. Instead I am going to point out the first item:
1. Transparency in Government. We will draft and introduce a resolution calling upon the Board of Chosen Freeholders to adopt a County Version of the “Transparency in Government Act” which will direct County Government to create a searchable website where any resident can perform a search and see exactly where every penny of money is spent, not just a line item in a budget.
MWatch has had a lot of fun poking, well fun at Lou Magazzu and the sad condition of the county website. Outdated information, polls that didn’t work, and most egregious of all, in our eyes, was the lackadaisical attitude towards updating the minutes of the meetings. I for one did not think matters could get worse.
Now, on the positive side, the main page of the website does provide important news, updates, public notices and a list of upcoming meetings. That is an improvement. But it hardly qualifies as transparent government. For transparency, citizens that have difficulty attending freeholder meetings must have complete access to all discussions and to the minutes of those meetings. However, when one goes to the meetings portal to search the minutes and videos of prior meetings, one cannot help but be underwhelmed at the scarcity of information. For instance, the last minutes posted are from February 21.
The second item of the pledge reads:
2. Accessible Government. We will draft and introduce a resolution calling upon the Board of Chosen Freeholders to make the County’s government accessible to all by immediately making streaming video of all Board of Chosen Freeholder meetings available on the Cumberland County website.
Only four videos of the meetings have been posted – at least under Lou Magazzu the videos were available online shortly after the meetings. It seems the only way to access the minutes is to file OPRA requests, a tedious process that places a burden on county employees that should be doing other county business, and cost the requester money. And streaming of the meetings live is still a pipe dream. This is inexcusable.
Since the duly elected republican have failed to do even the minimum in fulfilling the first two items of their pledge, and in fact have taken a step backward, it would seem senseless to analyze the rest of their pledge.