Government transparency

Kansas alternative media shut out of legislative access

Earlier this year, during the Kansas legislative session, I became interested in receiving press credentials from the Kansas Legislature. This, I thought, would make covering news made in the statehouse easier. The issuance of legislative press credentials is handled, in alternating years, by the Senate President and the Speaker of the House. This year is the Senate President's year. So in March I stopped by the office of the President of the Senate, and upon making my inquiry I was told by a staff member that my request would not be considered. The reason for that, I was told, is…
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It’s time to audit the Federal Reserve Bank

I received a press release from the Libertarian Party of Kansas announcing their support for legislation introduced by U.S. Representative Ron Paul that would "audit the centralized/privatized banks that make up the Federal Reserve System." "The secretive FR [Federal Reserve] is a monetary oligarchy and an unelected monopoly that has control of credit, interest, volume and value of our currency. Until the people regain control of their money, bankers and not the government, will control the situation and our property," says Al Terwelp, Vice Chair of the Libertarian Party of Kansas. "We must have the ability to search for the…
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Sedgwick County transparency effort delayed

This week Sedgwick County was scheduled to debut its financial transparency website. Based on the preview I briefly saw, this system will allow citizens to explore county revenue and spending in detail. Evidently, the system presents too much detail. The rollout was delayed due to an issue brought up by the Sheriff, having to do with names of undercover officers being exposed. That's a legitimate concern. Records that would disclose the identity of an "undercover agent" is one of the exceptions identified in the Kansas Open Records Act.
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Wichita school informational forums could help increase understanding

At Monday's meeting of the board of USD 259, the Wichita public school district, board president Lynn Rogers said he wants to have a discussion about ending balances, in particular unencumbered funds. He said there is misunderstanding in the community, during the bond issue campaign last year, and now with a state school board member. He added that he wants to communicate the meaning of this to the public. Rogers didn't mention the state school board member by name, but I think I can guess who he's referring to. You can view the member's less-than-cordial treatment at a recent Wichita…
Read More helps citizens watch Congress

The website is a great resource for citizens who are interested in the United States Congress. With the rapid expansion of government in the recent past, this is something we should all be concerned with. By using, you can search for bills by their bill number, words in the bill, the bill sponsors, and other ways. Once you've found the bill, you can read its text and see its status as it works its way through Congress. What's really useful is to add a tracker to the bill, so that you can be notified -- either on the…
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Sedgwick County keeps lease agreement secret

A few months ago in March, SMG, the company that is managing the Intrust Bank Arena (formerly known as the downtown Wichita arena) signed a lease with the Wichita Thunder Hockey team. Details of that lease weren't made available to the public. Not to Sedgwick County Commissioners, either. So the public and even elected government officials don't know anything about this contract, except for its term of five years. This strikes me as bad government. The county has a deal with SMG that gives the management company broad latitude in operating the arena, including some profit-and-loss responsibility. The arena, however,…
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Sunshine Review completes county effort nationwide

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 site's transparency checklist explains the criteria used to determine the openness of a governmental body. The page county websites supplies more detail. To view the information for your county, start by clicking on Sunshine Review. You can then find your county by click on a map of the states. Or, you could use the search feature. How does Sedgwick County do? Not very well. Based on Sunshine Review's evaluation:…
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Read the Bill

The Sunlight Foundation has created the website This site contains information about how bills such as the recent stimulus bill aren't read by members of Congress of their staff before they're voted on. The Sunlight Foundation asks for Congress to post all bills online for 72 hours before they are debated. There's a lot of useful information and a video on this site, as well as an online petition to sign.
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