Government transparency

Wichita public school district transparency

Wichita public school district transparency

Transparency issues surrounding the Wichita public school district are in the news. There are steps that are easy to make, but the district resists. It's difficult to view a meeting of the Wichita school board. If you -- perhaps a taxpayer to USD 259 -- would like to watch a meeting of the board of USD 259, the Wichita public school district, your options are few. You can attend the meetings in person. Or, if you subscribe to certain cable television systems, you can view delayed repeats of the meetings. But that's it. Live and archived video of governmental meetings…
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A Wichita social media town hall

A Wichita social media town hall

A City of Wichita town hall meeting ends in less than nine minutes, with a question pending and unanswered. As part of its engagement with citizens, the City of Wichita holds social media town hall meetings. On June 20, 2107, there was a Facebook town hall on the topic of economic development featuring Assistant City Manager Scot Rigby. His charge is "developing and implementing a coordinated and comprehensive development services program and for developing, implementing and overseeing economic development, redevelopment and real estate programs and projects." He's worked for the city for two years. [2. City of Wichita. Assistant City…
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During Sunshine Week, here are a few things Wichita could do

During Sunshine Week, here are a few things Wichita could do

The City of Wichita says it values open and transparent government, but the city lags far behind in providing information and records to citizens. The City of Wichita is proud to be an open and transparent governmental agency, its officials say. Former Mayor Carl Brewer often spoke in favor of government transparency. For example, in his State of the City address for 2011, he listed as an important goal for the city this: "And we must provide transparency in all that we do." When the city received an award for transparency in 2013, a city news release quoted Wichita City…
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WichitaLiberty.TV: Immunizations, spending and taxing in Kansas, and getting data from Wichita

WichitaLiberty.TV: Immunizations, spending and taxing in Kansas, and getting data from Wichita

In this episode of WichitaLiberty.TV: Should Sedgwick County be in competition with the private sector? What are attitudes towards taxation and spending in Kansas? Finally, what is it like to request data from the City of Wichita? View below, or click here to view at YouTube. Episode 138, broadcast February 12, 2017. Shownotes Kansans say no to more taxes. A statewide poll finds little support for raising taxes as a way to balance the Kansas budget. Analysis of proposed tax changes in Kansas. Proposed changes in the Kansas motor fuel tax and sales tax on groceries affects households in different…
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Sedgwick County economic freedom accountability index

Sedgwick County economic freedom accountability index

A new initiative to provide residents of Sedgwick County with more information about their elected county commissioners. Indexes of voting behavior are common at the national and state levels. These indexes let voters examine how elected representatives have actually voted, rather than having to rely on their rhetoric and campaign promises. Indexes also provide a useful institutional memory. Based on my experience on producing the Kansas Economic Freedom Index for several years -- a service now provided by Kansas Policy Institute -- Sedgwick County will have such an index. It's a timely launch, as this week Sedgwick County commissioners will…
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WichitaLiberty.TV: Blight, guns, testimony, and KPERS

WichitaLiberty.TV: Blight, guns, testimony, and KPERS

In this episode of WichitaLiberty.TV: Co-host Karl Peterjohn joins Bob Weeks to discuss the fight on blight and property rights, guns on campus, availability of testimony in the Kansas Legislature, and KPERS, our state’s retirement system. View below, or click here to view at YouTube. Episode 137, broadcast February 5, 2017. Shownotes Article: In Kansas, the war on blight continues Article: Availability of testimony in the Kansas Legislature Article: Again, KPERS shows why public pension reform is essential
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Availability of testimony in the Kansas Legislature

Availability of testimony in the Kansas Legislature

It is easy to provide Kansans with written testimony from the Kansas Legislature. At least I think so. On the Kansas Legislature website, each committee has its own page. On these committee pages there are links for “Committee Agenda,” “Committee Minutes,” and “Testimony.” When I looked at these pages two years ago, I found that in most cases there is no data behind these links.[1. Weeks, Bob. Availability of testimony in the Kansas Legislature. https://bobw7.sg-host.com/kansas-government/availability-testimony-kansas-legislature/.] I do not know what the statistics would be if I repeated the analysis for this year. But the written testimony and informational presentations provided…
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Wichita check register

Wichita check register

A records request to the City of Wichita results in data as well as insight into the city’s attitude towards empowering citizens with data. As part of an ongoing transparency project, I asked the City of Wichita for check register data. I’ve made the data available in a visualization using Tableau Public. Click here to access the visualization. Analyzing this data requires a bit of local knowledge. For example, there is a vendor named “Visit Wichita” that started to receive monthly payments in March 2015. What about payments for January and February? Those were made to a vendor named “Go…
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In Wichita, we’ll not know how this tax money is spent

In Wichita, we’ll not know how this tax money is spent

Despite claims to the contrary, the attitude of the City of Wichita towards citizens' right to know is poor, and its attitude will likely be reaffirmed this week. This week the Wichita City Council will consider approval of a contract with Visit Wichita, the city's convention and visitor bureau. Once again, citizens will be left out of knowing how the city's tax money is spent. In the past, I've asked that Visit Wichita (formerly Go Wichita Convention and Visitors Bureau) make its spending records available. It's the same type of information that the city will send you about its own…
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Video in the Kansas Senate

Video in the Kansas Senate

A plan to increase visibility of the Kansas Senate is a good start, and needs to go just one or two steps farther. The Kansas Republican Senatorial Committee has released a plan to make Kansas better. One plank concerns transparency, specifically this: "Under our plan, legislative meetings and Senate proceedings will be public and streamed live online for public viewing."[1. betterkansasplan.com. Transparency in Government. Available at betterkansasplan.com/better/#1475545628382-66e77cef-bde5.] This is a good idea, and one that should have, and could have, been implemented long ago. But it doesn't go quite far enough. The problem is that many people who might want…
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