Transparency- Just a catch phrase?

I did not create this letter. I just stole it and changed the intended audience. This sat in my DRAFTS file for a year.

Some of this has happened, but, one should expect a sweeping change to occur and force all the records to be open and transparent.

How often do these elected officials tell us they are open and transparent?
How many times will you hear those words in the coming months as they campaign to remain elected?

The Contracts that get approved by the City Council are not published with the Agenda nor with the Minutes of any meeting. To read them you need a Freedom of Information request.

Each month the Council gets an update from the Accountant on spending. That data is NEVER published.

The Council created a Finance sub-committee. I have asked for the meetings to be announced via the website. They only post a notice at City Hall. They never publish their minutes. Even when they make a report to the Council, they say, our minutes are in your packet, but those minutes do not get published. as part of the meeting minutes.

All sub-committee meetings should be announced on the City Council website.
All sub-committee minutes should be published at the same website, either speperatly or as part of the next Council Meeting Minutes.

So I present this letter.

The actual authors are;
True Massachusetts Government Transparency:SHOW US THE MONEY By Carla Howell and Michael Cloud, Originally published 2-8-08 (updated/condensed 3-31-10)

An Open Letter to the Methuen Legislature, City Council.

Honorable City Councillors,

On behalf of the taxpayers of Methuen,

For the purposes of Methuen City government transparency and accountability,

The taxpayers request that you show us the money: open the books for all Methuen Ciy Government income and spending.

We ask that you post the last 10 years of Methuen City government total yearly spending on an open, free, easily readable, and easily accessible website. All “on-” and “off-budget” transactions.

Taxpayers shouldn’t need to make a request under the Public Records Law (Massachusetts’ version of the federal Freedom of Information Act) to find out where the money comes from and where it goes.

Taxpayers shouldn’t have to be Certified Public Accountants to follow the money in Methuen City government.

We request that you make each year’s total City government spending easily readable and understandable by average 12 year old students in the Massachusetts public school system.

Why not? Yearly City government spending records aren’t calculus or trigonometry. They’re simple addition and subtraction.

All Methuen taxpayers should be able to browse this online City government spending website and see exactly where the money comes from and where it goes.

Detective novels tell us to follow the money.

Taxpayers should be able to easily find out which individuals and companies we are paying these tax dollars to. Government employees. Government expenditures. Contractors. Suppliers and vendors. Out-sourcing.

This will help eliminate even the appearance of political favoritism, sweetheart deals, conflicts-of-interest, bribery, or corruption.

It will help taxpayers identify and call attention to overcharges, under-performance, and poor returns on tax spending. It will let taxpayers shine a spotlight on previously unnoticed government overspending and waste.

Opening the books will allow us to prioritize City spending – and compare the importance of each expenditure with the importance of keeping that money in the hands of the taxpayers who earned it – many of whom desperately need it.

Closed Books government is secretive government.

Closed Books government is unaccountable to taxpayers. Neither morally, nor financially.

Closed Books government fosters inefficiency and ineffectiveness. It protects incompetence and irresponsibility.

Closed Books government covers up extravagances left intact while politicians cut, or threaten to cut, core services.

Closed Books government conceals and covers up 3 kinds of waste:
Paying champagne prices for beer quality.
Paying champagne prices for champagne – when you only need beer.
Buying champagne or beer items when you don’t need either.
Open Books government is transparent and accountable.

Open Books government shows taxpayers and voters that the Methuen City government has nothing to hide.

You can – and should – open and post yearly City government spending – 100% of all transactions – online on an open, free, easily readable, and easily accessible website.

Open books is priority # 1 for any legislator who’s serious about going after government waste and minimizing taxes.

We ask that you do this and do this quickly.


Transparency delayed is transparency denied.

Accountability delayed is accountability denied.

On behalf of the taxpayers and workers of Methuen,

The City Accountant works for you.
The Responsibility for funding rests with you.
We elected you to represent our interests.
Show an interest.
Step up and Open the Books.
This is not something that requires the approval of the City Administration.

Once again, we ask you to open the books of all City government revenue and spending.



admin posted at 2011-4-8 Category: City Council

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