Friday, March 15, 2019

Sunshine Week Audit of Local Gov Websites

Sunshine Week Audit of Local Gov Websites, Metamora Herald

This week is designated as Sunshine week, culminating in National Freedom of Information Day on March 16. "Sunshine Week is a national initiative spearheaded by the American Society of News Editors to educate the public about the importance of open government and the dangers of excessive and unnecessary secrecy." "Sunshine Week coverage is a collaborative effort between the AP, Associated Press Media Editors and the American Society of News Editors, which launched the first national Sunshine Week in 2005. The week coincides with the March 16 birthday of James Madison, father of the Constitution and a key advocate of the Bill of Rights".
We at the Metamora Herald have decided to do an online "audit" of local government websites. The following is our assessment of how local units of government make public information available online and their sites usefulness. 

Illinois Prarie District Public Library
minutes posted quickly, agendas posted in advance of meetings, information for board members distributed digitally and shared with the public. very good access on site.

MTHS School Board
minutes posted directly, agendas posted on site before meetings. good access on the website.

MGS Board of Education
minutes & agendas posted online. good, basic information on site.

G.Hills District #69
Agendas posted in advance. Great website with lots of information.

Riverview Consolidated
Minutes and agendas available with other public information. Good access.

Village of Germantown Hills
Agendas and minutes of board and committee meetings online.

Village of Metamora
Minutes and next agenda made available. FOIA request information is available to assist information seekers.

Village of Spring Bay
Easy to use site with minutes of past meetings. Decent site.

None of the local townships have an online presence that could be identified. The Township Officials of Illinois website Woodford county section lists links for Metamora and Worth, but nothing for Spring Bay. The Metamora link gave a message "website not available".  Worth township has a site that is "under construction" with some contact information. Most recent minutes posted are from 2016.
What exactly does a township do? The Illinois State Comptrollers website has some information about the history of township government in Illinois. The over 1400 townships in Illinois operate "as modern as any and more progressive than most" as "the closest level of government to the people". Our local townships do good work but could use an update of their public face. A modern and progressive government needs to to be open and share information with constituents.

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