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Facilitator: Jeff Schuler

Three major takeaways:

  1. Publishing data in bulk, machine-readable, and open formats provides the most accessible and cost-effective framework for sharing public data with the public — by allowing third parties to leverage that data to create applications based on market forces, interest and need.
  2. Most County data does not currently meet Open Data criteria, but the IT Department is receptive to the principles outlined and the potential of implementing.
  3. An advisory group to the County Executive’s office could help make Open Data a priority for the County IT Department and to set priorities.

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Facilitator: Jill Miller Zimon

Three major takeaways:

  1. The public encounters multiple and varied obstacles to finding, accessing and receiving data and information related to how much money is collected and how that money is spent. These obstacles hinder the public’s ability to follow the choices made by those charged with appropriations and, subsequently, hinders the public’s ability to comment on the public policy inherent in those choices.
  2. Since a great deal of the data already exists electronically, “freeing” the data is a matter of prioritization and political will. There is at least nominal evidence that the County Executive and the County Council have both prioritized the need to make this data accessible and to exert the political will to make it so.
  3. A comprehensive budget dashboard and portal that can be built out overtime needs to be created in order to provide access to all budget related documents and serve as both a warehouse and a clearinghouse.
  4. Continue reading »


Facilitator: Graham Veysey

Three Major Takeaways
1) Education is key. In order to restore trust in government, people need to understand what government does and lose the cynicism that is currently exhibited towards government. Too often, education is thought of as just a classroom K-12 environment. It needs to be thought of as both a system that addresses youth but also adults. A curriculum needs to be developed that instills in youth the basics of how government works but also what it does.

Classroom activities are not enough. Shadow and service learning are key educational tools. Vista workers should be placed at the County level and the County Fellowship program should be expanded.

Former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor frequently sites a fact that only 1/3 of people can name the three branches of government but nearly 75% of the population can name one of the American Idol judges.

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Facilitator: Jenita McGowan
Three major takeaways
1) County Stat is a new program that started six months ago and it is County-wide. There is still opportunity to shape what is measured and how that information is shared with the public. The vision of the breakout group is to make the County Stat process and outcomes transparent, participatory and collaborative.

2) Recommendation: County Stat should be easily Accessible and Understandable statistics. Specific action steps- create visual displays such as dashboards or infographics, make the information sortable, interactive and customizable, consider non-digital displays such as posters at County buildings that show the agency’s statistics and goals.

3) Recommendation: County Stat should be advised by a Citizen Input Group that can add input on other metrics that measure quality of life.

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Facilitators: Bill Callahan, Wanda Davis

Three major takeaways

  1. Up to 20% of the County’s adult residents and up to 50% of adult Cleveland residents don’t have broadband Internet access in their homes. Government transparency initiatives that rely on online tools will exclude these citizens, unless accompanied by strategic efforts to help them become effective Internet users.
  2. There are now big, well-funded “Digital Inclusion” campaigns under way led by OneCommunity’s Connect Your Community Project (in Cleveland and East Cleveland) and the County Library and Connect Ohio (in many suburban communities). These campaigns, funded by Federal broadband stimulus grants, are helping thousands of disconnected residents to become broadband users, but they are funded only until Summer/Fall 2012. This is a unique opportunity that the County and transparency advocates need to a) seize while it lasts, and/or b) help to extend beyond 2012 with local resources and partnerships.
  3. There are experienced, committed nonprofits and libraries already leading the way in this area, and constantly on the lookout for partners.

    Continue reading »


Thanks to all who participated in the Cleveland Coalition’s TAP Summit. We made a lot of progress today to move toward greater openness and transparency in Cuyahoga County. We’ll be posting group reports tomorrow. Stay tuned!


Are you ready for the TAP Summit? Day one of the summit is today, fueled by caffeine and adrenaline. It all starts at 1:00 at CSU’s Levin College of Urban Affairs. We’re expecting over 100 participants, but we still have room for a few more. If you haven’t yet registered, you can register at the door. See you soon!


Tune in tomorrow, July 20 at 9 AM for The Sound of Ideas’ program on government transparency.

If government – from your local school board to the U.S. Capitol – operated in secret, how much would you trust it? On the next Sound of Ideas, we’ll talk to open government advocates about the public’s right to know. We’ll offer expert advice on how to access public records and keep tabs on your government. Plus, we’ll explore how technology is helping to make government more transparent. Join us Wednesday at 9 on 90.3.

Ellen Miller, Co-Founder & Executive Director, Sunlight Foundation
David Marburger, Partner, Baker & Hostetler and author of Access with Attitude: An Advocate’s Guide to Freedom of Information in Ohio
C. Ellen Connally, President, Cuyahoga County Council
Michael Froomkin, Professor of Law, University of Miami and served on Florida Supreme Court Committee on Privacy and Court Records from 2003-2005

More information available here:


Here’s the list of breakout sessions for the TAP Summit:


  • Digital Divide: Involving non-traditional participants or non-wired residents
  • Improving Trust in Government
  • Open Government Legislation
  • A Public Engagement Process for Charter Review
  • Creating an Intermediary-Friendly Environment
  • Government Responsibilities to the Public
  • Cuyahoga County Website — Long-range Planning
  • A Rights and Responsibilities “Open Government” Pledge for Elected Officials
  • A Rights and Responsibilities “Open Government” Pledge for Citizens
  • Utilizing Gov2.0 Resources


We will be developing four (4) Gov-Public Transparency Projects. Participants in each group will be responsibility for a in-depth knowledge of the project, will be expected to read the group’s homework assignment before the session, and will work in a team of other citizens and government officials to develop a transparency plan and timeline for their project.


Who is the Cleveland Coalition?

We’ve gotten several requests for more information about the Cleveland Coalition and in the spirit of transparency, I figure we should publish the information right here on our site.

Here’s the 411: The collection of individuals that calls itself the Cleveland Coalition is a group of ten Clevelanders who organized ourselves in January of 2010. Our goal was to sponsor events and activities that would stimulate civic dialogue in a productive fashion about issues that affect our quality of life in the Greater Cleveland area.

This core group has been playing the role of an Advisory Board over the past year: planning and executing our events and determining advocacy strategy relative to our two projects (Cleveland’s casino and the TAP Summit). This group consists of: Ahmed Abonamah, Jason Bristol, Fran DiDonato, David Jurca, Kevin Leeson, Nick Martin, Beth Sebian, Gauri Torgalkar, Graham Veysey, and Eric Wobser.

Given our recent success in acquiring funding through the Gund Foundation and the Sunlight Foundation for the TAP Summit, we are considering more carefully the question of how we can sustain and grow our efforts and how we can expand our organization to incorporate more voices and ones that bring an intimate knowledge of our community’s needs and have some moxie for making stuff happen. Our internal review will culminate in a board retreat scheduled for October of this year.

Our organization admittedly needs to incorporate more diverse leadership and membership (we are all keenly aware of this!) and we hope that following a thoughtful planning process, we can grow the capacity to build our group in a way that’s respectful of the responsibilities we bear to our community here in Cleveland.

Read a little more about us here: “Encouraged by a new generation of believers: Brent Larkin,” The Plain Dealer (June 6, 2010)

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