Wednesday, September 28, 2005

LET THE SUN SHINE IN TO OUR GOVERNMENT

The County Clerk of Bernalillo County maintains records of real estate transactions: deeds, mortgages, liens, etc. She has these on a database in her office downtown. If Joe Sixpack wants to look at these records (they are public records), he can go down to the building at 5th and Marquette and go up to the Sixth floor and ask a clerk to look into the computer. Older records are there (prior to 1995?) on microfilm. Parking? It is to work at.

Why is this? These are our records, public records. Why are they not on line? Why cannot Jane Sixpack access these public records from her own computer in her own home, or at the public library?

Same deal with the contracts that the City, County and State enter into with middlemen of all sorts. Why cannot we see these contracts on line? For example, how much is the attorney going to take for his fee of the $100 million bond issue the County authorized? Is it a reasonable amount? Is it based on work done, hourly rate? Or is it a percentage? If it is a percentage, then why? Will the attorney get $125,000? That is more than we pay the Chief Justice for a whole year’s work. How many hours will be put into this work? What rate per hour?

If that gated community in the Northeast Heights hires some off-duty police officers and pays them time and a half to patrol the neighborhood, in government, marked police cars, in uniform with badge and gun, what is this all about? The answer is in the contract, a writing, which could be put on line but is not. Why not? If the Chief wants to let his officers be hired by private individuals to police for those special ones, and call the plan “Chief’s Overtime,” then let him put the contracts on line. Sunshine could cure a lot of our problems, and make right a lot of our wrongs.

Let technology help us become Big Citizens.

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