Open records

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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Where are our documents?

Where are our documents?

Government promotes and promises transparency, but finds it difficult to actually provide. In this excerpt from WichitaLiberty.TV, I give some examples of how little information government actually shares with us, despite its proclamations. Click here to view in high definition at YouTube. Following, the script for this video excerpt. During the campaign for the one cent per dollar Wichita city sales tax last year, a city document promised this if the tax passed: “The process will be transparent, with reports posted online outlining expenditures and expected outcomes.” The “Yes Wichita” campaign promised “Reports will be measured and reported publicly.” These…
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WichitaLiberty.TV: Lack of information sharing by government, community improvement districts, and the last episode of “Love Gov”

WichitaLiberty.TV: Lack of information sharing by government, community improvement districts, and the last episode of “Love Gov”

In this episode of WichitaLiberty.TV: Do our governmental agencies really want to share data and documents with us? Community Improvement Districts and homeowners compared. And, the last episode of “Love Gov” from the Independent Institute. View below, or click here to view in high definition at YouTube. Episode 95, broadcast September 20, 2015.
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Kansas schools ask to fund extraordinary needs

Kansas schools ask to fund extraordinary needs

Asking taxpayer-funded entities whether they are operating efficiently is a perfectly legitimate question that, frankly, should be the starting point of every budget discussion. That some find it offensive is indication that the issue should be much more aggressively pursued across government, writes Dave Trabert of Kansas Policy Institute. Extraordinary needs ... or wants? By Dave Trabert, Kansas Policy Institute. Thirty-eight school districts have applied for additional state aid from the Extraordinary Needs fund based on increased enrollment, reduced property values, loss of state aid (just Hutchinson) and the reactivation of two refugee resettlement agencies in Wichita by the U.S.…
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Discussion of open government in Wichita and Kansas

Discussion of open government in Wichita and Kansas

Perspectives may differ, but the point is the same -- more government transparency leads to more citizen engagement and better outcomes in communities, states, and nations. In this podcast, Kansas Policy Institute Vice President James Franko discusses government transparency with Seth Etter and Bob Weeks. Etter is the organizer of Open Wichita, an initiative to bring the benefits of open data and civic hacking to Wichita. Weeks blogs at Voice for Liberty in Wichita where he advocates for government transparency and accountability and uses open records requests to access, analyze and publish state and local government data. KPI maintains KansasOpenGov.org,…
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