Akron City Council often flouts rules designed to allow the public to follow city government and weigh in on proposals before they become law.
Akron's city charter requires legislation to be posted online by noon Friday, in advance of Monday City Council meetings, to give residents the weekend to review proposals. But council regularly blows by the deadline, and sometimes legislation is changed or rewritten hours before it's voted into law, without any opportunity for members of the public to respond.
Ohioans should not have to bear the expense and aggravation of going to court to force government officials to comply with the open records law, state Auditor Dave Yost believes. To make it easier to get documents, Yost announced a month ago he was establishing a "Sunshine Audit" program.
Ohio is going to unprecedented levels with its new open government initiative. In a partnership with OpenGov, the state aspires to make all financial information available to the public – from all localities. The data will provide citizens with “checkbook-level spending data to every city, town, school district, and other local governing entity in the state – 3,962 of them in total,” OpenGov said in its announcement.
With the revelation that most members of Portsmouth City Council have not taken Sunshine Laws training to understand the need for all things to be done in open sessions so the public can know what is going on, comes word that most local boards are operated by people who have had the training.
The Ohio Senate made the right decision last week when it announced plans to broadcast coming budget deliberations. It balked at the move last session, when the Ohio House opted to stream its Finance Committee hearings over the Ohio Channel (online at www.ohiochannel.org).
Open-meetings laws are effective only if they actually compel public entities to conduct public business in public. That clearly is the intent, and the Olentangy school board appears to have violated the intent of the law by discussing what should have been public matters through private emails.