Guest view: District has far to go in terms of transparency
August 15, 2009
This letter is in response to Wanda Stanley’s letter to the editor that appeared in the Tribune on Aug. 5.
On July 22, South Tahoe Public Utility Director Dale Rise was quoted in the Tahoe Daily Tribune as saying, “The public needs to know the agency (STPUD) is the farthest thing from being transparent you would ever want to see in you life.” Wanda Stanley disputed this statement in her letter, saying “the district has acted in the best interests of its customers.”
The definition of “transparency” has changed a great deal since the election of our new president. Here are some quotes from a memorandum from President Obama to executive department heads and agencies ( See http://www.whitehouse.gov/the_press_office/TransparencyandOpenGovernment/):
“My administration is committed to creating an unprecedented level of openness in government. Transparency promotes accountability and provides information for citizens about what their government is doing. My administration will take appropriate action, consistent with law and policy, to disclose information rapidly in forms that the public can readily find and use.
“Executive departments and agencies should harness new technologies to put information about their operations and decisions online and readily available to the public.”
Director Rise is talking about “an unprecedented level of openness.” It is fairly easy to imagine this level of transparency:
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1. STPUD board meetings would be televised.
2. Board meetings would be broadcast live on the Internet (streaming video).
3. Downloadable videos of past board meetings would be available on the STPUD Web site.
4. Downloadable copies of the board meeting minutes and agendas for the last three years (the El Dorado County Board of Supervisors do this).
5. Downloadable copies of past and present annual budgets.
6. Downloadable copies of daily expenses.
7. Downloadable copies of the 10-year plan, 15-year plan and 25-year plan.
8. Online documents describing current projects and past projects.
9. Online documents explaining why important decisions of interest were made.
10. Online documents describing the district’s lobbying efforts in Washington, D.C., and Sacramento.
11. Online copies of letters sent to federal and state politicians.
12. Online documents describing new information acquired at conventions and conferences.
13. Regular update presentations for City Council and the Board of Supervisors.
14. Setup tours of the wastewater plant, Diamond Valley Ranch and other District facilities.
15. Solicit public feedback with an online comment box.
16. Solicit public feedback with telephone surveys.
In closing, I would like to mention Wanda Stanley’s last comment, “Will the real Mr. Rise please stand up?” I have never seen a person do so much homework for his position as a director. Truth be told, Dale is losing tons of money because he is working on STPUD matters instead of working on his own contracting business. It is an honor and a privilege to work along side such a dedicated individual.
– Ernie Claudio is a member of the STPUD board of directors and a candidate for board seat No. 1.
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