Sunday, April 09, 2006

Austin can't afford secrecy

How much will the Open Government amendment cost? No one knows, though we know for sure the City's cost estimate is vastly overstated and the City conceded in court the amount would not be enough to require a tax increase.

The real question is how much would open government save? Business and governments, including the City of Austin, already are racing to do their work on the Internet because it is so much more efficient.

Just as important, how much would we save by changing the culture of city hall to reduce the influence of special interests? If public scrutiny means the City refrains from approving just a handful of these all-too-common back-room-deal tax giveaways, like the ones to Home Depot and AMD where all the important decisions were made behind closed doors, the amendment would assuredly pay for itself.

The question isn't can we afford open government in Austin. The question is whether Austin can afford continued secrecy surrounding how the City conducts business.


At 12:51 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

If you're advocating something shouldn't you have a more specific estimate of how much it would cost and how much it would save?

Specifically, how much do you estimate would it cost to implement and how much would it save in the long run?

Also, if Samsung chooses to stay here is there also a tax gain from that even if we are rebating them a portion of their taxes back? Is it actually a $58 million loss to the taxpayers?

At 1:58 PM, Blogger Gritsforbreakfast said...

Because the City has only issued cost estimates concerning the proposal that a judge has said were misleading, it's simply impossible for anyone to say with a degree of certainty what cost or more likely what savings would ensue. I've personally studied the reams of backup documentation on this topic, and because of the way they've overstated what new systems must be created and what must go online, it's impossible to tell from the data they provided what a more realistic cost would be, though they admitted it would not require a tax increase.

As Milton wrote in Paradise Lost: They who have put out the people's eyes reproach them of their blindness.

At 6:25 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

A tax giveway to Home Depot is something nobody needs. Sprawl is the enemy of Austin. Screw Home Depot, Wal Mart, etc- they put small business out of business, create traffic, and turn Southpark Meadows forest into an ugly shopping center that nobody wants or needs. A tax incentive to AMD or Boeing is more understandable. Most companies can't provide the unique benefits to society that they do- airplanes and efficient microprocessors. While I oppose tax benefits, at least there's some kind of benefit- keeping Austin a high-tech city. In ALL CASES, TAX INCENTIVES SHOULD BE REVEALED TO AND VOTED-ON BY THE PUBLIC. NO MORE BACK DOOR POLITICAL GIFTS TO ANY CORPORATION. IT'S WORTH OUR TAXPAYER DOLLARS TO REVEAL THESE GIFTS IN EXCRUCIATING DETAIL TO THE PUBLIC.


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