Government transparency

Wichita needs transparency from its agencies

Wichita needs transparency from its agencies

When the Wichita city council delegates spending to outside agencies such as Visit Wichita, it should insist on the same transparency requirements the city itself faces. The Kansas Open Records Act is designed to give citizens access to data concerning their government. In the words of the Kansas Attorney General, "An open and transparent government is essential to the democratic process." The preamble to the Kansas act states, "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…
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Missing from Wichita city documents: Sales tax

Missing from Wichita city documents: Sales tax

It would be simple for the City of Wichita to include additional relevant information regarding economic development incentive decisions. When the Wichita City Council makes decisions regarding economic development incentives, the Center for Economic Development and Business Research at Wichita State University prepares an analysis for the city. The purpose of the analysis is to determine benefit-cost ratios for overlapping governmental jurisdictions, purporting to show that these jurisdictions will receive more in benefits than they pay in costs. An example of the analysis for a large project is here. The city does not make this analysis document available to the…
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Wichita should post fulfilled records requests

Wichita should post fulfilled records requests

When the City of Wichita fulfills records requests, it should make those records available to everyone. When governmental agencies like the City of Wichita fulfill records requests, they could also publish the records on their websites. When records are supplied electronically to requestors, this is an additional simple (and low cost) step that would leverage the city’s effort and increase its value. Some federal agencies do this. For example at the U.S. Customs and Border Protection website, there is a page titled FOIA Library. An example entry on this page is titled "Executive Orders on Travel Records." The explanation for…
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Wichita legal notices an easy start on the path to transparency

Wichita legal notices an easy start on the path to transparency

Kansas law requires publication of certain notices in newspapers, but cities like Wichita could also make them available in other ways that are easier to use. As Wichita's new mayor takes office, there are a few things the city could do to increase the availability and distribution of government information. An easy project to accomplish would be placing legal notices on the city's web page. Kansas law requires that many legal notices must be printed in a newspaper. That law needs to be changed. Newspapers resist this reform, as it might mean a loss of revenue for them. (That's right.…
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Wichita water plant contract

Wichita water plant contract

Wichita should consider discarding the water plant contract in order to salvage its reputation and respect for process. This week the Wichita City Council will consider approving a contract with Wichita Water Partners to build a new water treatment plant. It's a controversial matter that likely played a significant role in the recent mayoral election. Wichita Eagle reporting by Chance Swaim in the story Wichita’s mayor steered multi-million-dollar water plant contract to friends traces through the issues. The most important thing is that the city receives a reliable water plant that meets its needs. Currently, the city operates a plant…
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