Friday, March 21, 2008

Time for the county to join the 21st (or even the 20th) centurty

Milwaukee County is inexplicably and maddeningly behind the rest of the world in making the business of the public available to the public.

It has resisted for years doing what other governments have done for years -- post information related to County Board agenda items on the Internet. This isn't about the committee and Board agendas themselves -- the County Board does post those. This is about the reports and analyses and resolutions themselves to which agendas refer.

Consider, for example, the March agenda for the County Board Parks Committee. You can go to the County Board web site and after too many clicks find the agenda. You cannot, however, read the items related to No. 9, dealing with the county's storm water permit, including its plan to handle its very-polluting lakefront outfalls; or the items related to No. 13, which is about the stabilization and re-vegetation of Wahl Bluff in Lake Park.

(Through the good graces of the office of County Supervisor Lynne DeBruin, who is chair of the County Board's Parks Committee, I can, through a fairly labor-intensive process, often get ahold of a Parks Committee packet and post it on If you want to read the items related to No. 13 mentioned above, click here and here; if you want to read about the storm water permit, click here - the part about the beaches is on pages 11 and 12. For the entire agenda, with links, click here.)

It's mind-boggling that the county is not posting items for all County Board committees and the County Board itself. Sometimes watching a County Board meeting is like watching a group of people speak in an obscure foreign language that the rest of us aren't privy to -- they know what they are saying and just what phrase in a a particular resolution they are talking about -- it's just us common folk in the audience who aren't allowed in on the secret.

The City of Milwaukee does absolutely an outstanding job of posting the content of Common Council committee items; the School Board does a decent job, although on a less sophisticated level; MMSD manages to get its items out there; and so do smaller governments all over the map. And the county can't manage because....? The public is not allowed to know the details of the debate without chasing to the courthouse because....?

Hey, it's Sunshine Week. Milwaukee County Board, let the sun shine in.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I've emailed a copy to my supervisor. Why not follow suit?