Tuesday, November 6, 2007

The Hidden Agenda

What's going on at City Hall? There will be a meeting of the Fayetteville City Council this evening at 6:00 PM in Room 219 of the City Administration Building located at 113 West Mountain Street, Fayetteville, Arkansas. What do you think they will be doing? You won't find out on the city's fancy redesigned website.

Last week, the City Council approved a "barebones" reporting of City Council, commission and committee meetings beginning January 1, which means that citizens will no longer have online access to transcripts. They did not, as far as I can tell from the minutes that have not yet been posted, tell City Clerk Sondra Smith not to post the supporting documents for council meetings in advance, something that allows citizens to inform themselves and express their views to aldermen before the meetings.

Tonight's City Council meeting is less than eight hours away, and the City Clerk's website does not yet have the Final Agenda posted online, much less the documentation supporting the agenda items to be considered or even the final results of the October 30 meeting of the Council. At least citizen activist Jeff Erf's alternative site has the final agenda, and he has an added feature allowing citizen comments that is missing on the city's official website.

Something else I was unable to find on the City's official website is the schedule of salaries for city administrative employees. This is a matter of public record, and it should be available online so citizens don't have to make a special trip to city hall or file a FOIA request just to see how their tax dollars are being spent.

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