Friday, March 10, 2006

City's bogus cost estimate stems from bogus assumptions

Lies are like threads in a cheap sweater. You pull one string and the whole thing can unravel.

The City of Austin's ridiculous claim that the Open Government Online Amendment would cause citizen email to publish online makes better sense of their assertion that it will cost some ridiculously high amount to implement - $36 million, they estimated. But estimates are based on assumptions. So when you cost out staff and systems for vetting every single email to council and city department heads to put online in "real time" - something the amendment in NO way requires them to do - I'm sure you do get a high number.

But it's based on a lie.

5 Comments:

At 5:53 AM, Blogger Paul Silver said...

I understand your passion about this issue but I don't believe that the Council is lying.
They, and I, have a different point of view.
I support most of the amendment aiming at getting more City business online. The small section about documenting almost all conversations is the devilish detail. With a $500 fine most City staff will either over react and document everything and/or start to avoid even casual conversations with many of the people they reguarly. The amendments good intentions will handicap the myriad small converstaions that are the tiny building blocks of relationship and understanding. We will be left with formal statements and posturing. It is the opposite of what we want to encourage to encourage rapport among different interest groups.
I could vote for the amendment if about a dozen lines were removed.
Paul at Austin Centrist Blog

 
At 6:25 AM, Blogger Gritsforbreakfast said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

 
At 6:34 AM, Blogger Gritsforbreakfast said...

Sorry, had a bad typo:

There are two issues here, Paul: "Do you support the amendment?" which I know you don't because of those "dozen lines," and "is the council's language they approved for the voters accurate?," which I don't think any honest interpreter would agree it is.

Simply put, nothing in the amendment language says everyone's email must be published online in real time, but according to the city's IT person (who testified at the hearing), that interpretation is the reason for their high cost estimate. So HE's not lying - if he had to do such an absurd project, it'd be really expensive. But the assumption he was given that citizen email to council would be vetted by staff and published in real time is absurd, a flat out misrepresntation

Even though you disagree with the amendment, Paul, do you honestly think the council performed their legal duty to put "neutral" language on the ballot? To support slanted language just because you oppose the amendment is to say the end justifies the means, which doesn't seem very "centrist."

 
At 12:49 PM, Blogger JS Hatcher said...

I would also like to point out that this is a charter amendment, which will be carried out further through a set of ordinances. I undertand that "meeting" can be read to require any time two people are in the same room together, but I think that gets to be a pretty tortured interpretation and not the one plainly intended by the amendment. I also think it is important to note that this only applies to the top level City officials.

 
At 3:43 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is all absurdity. All levels of our government have been very closed for a very long time, while over the years we have had more and more laws and charter amendments and whatever to make it appear that our "elected" leaders really to want we the people to have access and control over our government.

Texas state and local government entities have over the last several years become profoundly more sluggish in honoring open records requests. In 2000, the Texas Attorney General's office had to settle fights over 5,002 requests that agencies would not openly and promplty respond to. In 2005, the number of disputed "FOI" requests was 11,765. an increase of about 135%. The Texas Attorney General a political person who makes political decisions about what is and what is not public information. Doubt it not!

"Two of our Texas legislators are working to improve access at the federal level. U.S. Representative Lamar Smith and Senator John Cornyn are sponsoring the Openness Promotes Effectiveness in our National Government Act of 2005, or the OPEN Government Act. " That is enough to make me ill. Cornyn took a whole lot of Abramoff money and allowed Ralph Reed via Michael Scanlon via Jack Abramoff to lobby him and the Texas legislature in what only can be described as truly underhanded dishonest dealings. Lamar Smith is simply a Bush worshipper. He voted for CAFTA and is fully in favor of the NAFTA corridors for Texas and the concommitant Central Texas triple tax local highways scheme.

I do not believe we can do anything to make these people communicate and act from honor and integrity. Lies and deceptions of various kinds is ALL they have given us for a very long time. The entire system is at this point corrupt. It is a gangster system.

 

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