*Thanks to Kevin Cronin for this great recap of Thursday’s event.*
The concept of transparency in government got a bit clearer with County residents and high-level County government staff coming together, in a “fishbowl” community meeting. The open and far-ranging discussion, June 30th at Trinity Cathedral, was an opportunity to let policy experts and County residents explore County government together, raising and answering questions.
Along the way, County residents got an appreciation for the complexity and difficulty in making changes and transforming a multi-million dollar government activity. Government staff people got a deeper appreciation for the depth and fervent desire to take our County’s deepest scandal, loss and shame to drive lasting positive reform. The session offers a glimpse of steps to follow, as Cuyahoga County seeks to create a national model for openness and responsive policy formation, culminating in a Transparency Action Plan Summit July 29-30.
Participants benefited from a frank and far ranging discussion that varied, at times broad and sweeping and, at times, narrowly focused:
* How do we know County government is being conducted with the strongest of ethical standards?
* How does the County purchase equipment, make hiring decisions and ensure everyone has an equal opportunity to participate?
* How do taxpayers know the County is making sound decisions and getting good value for the taxpayer’s money?
While government reform has never wavered regarding the importance of transparency, implementation is a more difficult process. In a broader sense, transparency can mean a government that is open and encourages the broadest possible participation. Residents would not be just observers, and funders, of government decisions, but full participants, able to access information and decision-making processes and work with government officials to create more sound decisions and shrewder use of taxpayer dollars.
The Transparency Action Summit, July 29-30 at Cleveland State University, is a collaborative project of Cuyahoga County government, local nonprofits and national foundations, is free and open to the public.