Austin can't afford secrecyHow 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.