We are handing out a WINK to City Council Member Anna Lopez Brosche for doggedly pursuing more open government in City Hall.
As council president last year, she appointed a task force to look at whether the local government was giving sufficient access to the public. The report wasn’t good.
Since then she has worked diligently to prepare legislation intended to remedy the problem. In its current form the bill is ready for the Rules Committee next week and passage the following week.
It requires people who have contracts with the city to disclose contributions they have made to political campaigns or candidates. It also prohibits contractors from paying for the travel expenses of city officials.
Another provision would require the city to publish on its Web site any emails and text messages between lobbyists and council members.
In my view, this is the weakest part of the bill. Who, knowing the message was to be published, would send anything incriminating? (“Hey, Al, the check for $10,000 to bribe you to vote for my bill is in the mail.”)
Also, why pick on lobbyists? The idea that lobbying is a criminal activity is a peculiar one to liberals and their allies in the media.
Lobbying is a perfectly sensible occupation. Which would work best, having 5 million members of the NRA working the halls of the U.S. Capitol, or a couple of NRA lobbyists who are thoroughly familiar with gun control issues?
Furthermore, many liberal organizations have lobbyists, too.
The media dislikes lobbyists because they are competition. Liberal opinion page editors want their emotion-based opinions to direct elected officials. They don’t like it when someone presents facts that might bring about sensible public policy.
Lobbying works fairly and effectively because legislators get to hear from both sides on most issues, and lobbyists know that providing legislators with false information will ruin their reputations as reliable sources.
The provision in Brosche’s bill regarding lobbyists is harmless but it is likely to have little effect.
The real problems are the lack of access the public has to City Hall officials and employees, and the lack of easy access to information about public business on the city’s Web site.
The task force specifically lists two criticisms: the administration does not allow reporters to talk to department heads, in an attempt to control its message; and the city’s Web site is not “user-friendly.”
In truth, the council probably can do little about those problems. It is the mayor’s office that could make a difference, if it would. No one seems to show much interest in the problem so far. Mayor Lenny Curry has had little to say on the subject and has taken even less action.