There is an election on November 5th and we think its the perfect time to ask the candidates running in municipal and school board elections to take a transparency pledge.
We attend a lot of public meetings. We have heard members of the public voice their frustration on not being able to find information and being provided notice on an issue very close to the meeting date.
Most local governments are doing the minimal required. Placing a public notice in the Times Herald is not an effective way to notify the public.
We want candidates and elected officials to pledge to go beyond what is required (and it’s not that hard with today’s technology).
Below is a pledge we are going to ask all local candidates for office in the Borough of Conshohocken, Borough of West Conshohocken, Plymouth Township and Whitemarsh Township to make.
We will publish each candidates response. If you think this pledge is a great idea, ask candidates about it when they knock on your door.
Local Government Transparency Pledge
Please note, we understand that some of the below items are already done. However, we are seeking a pledge to make it an ordinance and/or policy, not just practice.
Within three months of taking office, do you commit to introduce and/or support the following:
- An ordinance/policy that agendas for all public meetings and hearings be published on the municipality or school district’s website three days prior to the meeting date, posted to at least one social media platform and distributed via email to those subscribing. All agendas can be amended during the three days as long as the public is notified of the change.
- An ordinance/policy to upload all agendas, minutes and other documents so they appear in search engine results and the documents themselves are searchable.
- That all information provided to elected or appointed officials prior to a public meeting or hearing, be posted online for public consumption with the agenda
- An ordinance/policy that mandates that items on agendas be described in lay language in addition to any necessary legalese.
- An ordinance/policy to upload all videos of public meetings to YouTube.com or Vimeo.com or similar service for easier consumption (and allow embedding).
- An ordinance/policy to video the regular business meeting of the elected officials and minimally audio record workshops and committee meetings.
- An ordinance/policy to only use a municipality-controlled or school district email account for conducting official business. If someone were to email a personal account, your only response would be to direct them to the official account.
- An ordinance/policy that all text messages received regarding municipal or school district business will be stored and made available on a quarterly basis to the municipality or school district.
- An ordinance/policy that if individual elected officials maintain a social media presence, accounts are clearly marked if they are speaking as a politician or elected official.
- An ordinance/policy for the elected officials to hold at least one press conference a quarter.
You can download a PDF version here.