Declaring that you are transparent isn’t the same as being transparent. Let’s say you wanted to know what the mayor has been busy spending money on the past year. Perhaps you thought his catering budget was approaching the excessive area of spending and you wanted to know. Not that many years ago one could call up the township office and get that information over the phone. Over the last two years Woolwich has decided to require citizens and organizations to go through the more formal, time-consuming, costly route with a Freedom of Information (FOI) request. That catering item in the mayor’s budget, for instance, will cost you $5 for filing the request. The administration will take the allotted 30 days to give you an estimate that it will take 3 or 4 hours of staff time at $35 per hour and another 50 cents on photocopies. You then have to decide if you want to pay for this public information.
Will you find out where your money is going? Only if someone is willing to pay for it.
We can, and should, do better.
I am a strong proponent of keeping the public’s business in the open. Public scrutiny and the vetting of information is good practice for making better decisions — and better more informed decisions help us all. I will champion more information being made public.