Kansas Open Records Act

Simple tasks for Kansas Legislature

Simple tasks for Kansas Legislature

In this excerpt from WichitaLiberty.TV: There are things simple and noncontroversial that the Kansas Legislature should do in its upcoming session. View below, or click here to view at YouTube. Originally broadcast January 3, 2016. (more…)
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Empowering and engaging Wichitans, or not

Empowering and engaging Wichitans, or not

In this excerpt from WichitaLiberty.TV: The Wichita City Manager says "we will continue to empower and engage citizens by providing information necessary to keep them informed on the actions their government is taking on their behalf." So what actually happens when you ask the city for data, including data that many governmental agencies make freely available? View below, or click here to view at YouTube. Originally broadcast December 13, 2015.
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In Sedgwick County, choosing your own benchmarks

In Sedgwick County, choosing your own benchmarks

The Sedgwick County Commission makes a bid for accountability with an economic development agency, but will likely fall short of anything meaningful. The Greater Wichita Partnership is a reorganization of local economic development agencies. It has asked the Sedgwick County Commission for $300,000 to fund a portion of its activities this year. Those on the commission who are skeptical of GWP and its predecessors have asked for measurable outcomes of the progress GWP makes. Here is a paragraph from the agreement with GWP that commissioners will consider this week: 9. Measurable Outcomes. GWP shall be subject to measureable outcomes as…
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Wichita checkbook register

Wichita checkbook 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. I asked the City of Wichita for checkbook spending records and received data for 2015 through September 25, as I asked. I’ve made the data available in a visualization using Tableau Public. Click here to access the visualization. (A visual guide for using the visualization is at the end of this article.) Analyzing this data requires a bit of local knowledge. For example, there is a vendor named “Visit Wichita” that started to receive monthly payments…
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In Wichita, open records relief may be on the way

In Wichita, open records relief may be on the way

A new law in Kansas may provide opportunities for better enforcement of the Kansas Open Records Act. This year the Kansas Legislature passed HB 2256, captioned as "An act concerning public bodies or agencies; relating to the state of Kansas and local units of government; providing certain powers to the attorney general for investigation of violations of the open records act and the open meetings act; attorney general’s open government fund ..." The good part of this law is that it provides additional enforcement options when citizens feel that government agencies are not complying with the Kansas Open Records Law.…
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Wichita tourism plan should include spending disclosure

Wichita tourism plan should include spending disclosure

As part of a plan for spending a dedicated tax revenue stream, the Wichita city council should include disclosure of spending. It would fulfill a campaign promise. When the City of Wichita collects money through taxation, citizens have the right to know how it is spent. For the city, it is possible to view every check that is written, although the city is not able to supply this information in machine-readable form. But it is available. But when the city establishes non-profit corporations that are funded totally, or nearly totally, with taxes, different rules apply, says the city: Spending does…
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College environmentalists use public records laws

Washington Free Beacon: College environmentalists are using public records laws to investigate the circumstances surrounding the hiring of an economist at the University of Kansas (KU) who has spoken out against wind subsidies, according to his attorney. Dr. Art Hall, executive director of the Center for Applied Economics at the university, found himself at the center of an environmentalist campaign after testifying to the state legislature that Kansas should do away with green energy quotas in the spring of 2014. Shortly after his testimony, Schuyler Kraus, a KU student and environmentalist, submitted a public records request demanding all of his…
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This week, Wichita has a chance to increase government transparency

This week, Wichita has a chance to increase government transparency

The Wichita City Council can decide to disclose how taxpayer money is spent, or let it remain being spent in secret. The City of Wichita has three surrogate quasi-governmental agencies that are almost totally taxpayer-funded, specifically Go Wichita Convention and Visitors Bureau, Wichita Downtown Development Corporation, and Greater Wichita Economic Development Coalition. Each agency contends it is not a "public agency" as defined in Kansas law, and therefore does not have to fulfill records requests. These agencies spend considerable sums of tax money. This week the city will consider funding Go Wichita with a budget of $2,356,851 for 2015. That…
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