(KCPW News) Although Salt Lake City created a transparency web site and drafted an open government ordinance in the past six months, it also became the target of critics who accused Mayor Ralph Becker of not being transparent enough about a proposal to build a new public safety complex on Library Square. Becker says he learned a good deal about the importance of public participation from the failed proposal.
“I think some of the public felt that, you know, we were coming to them too late. And some of that was by necessity but other parts of it maybe weren’t,” Becker says. “And so part of the lessons learned for us is: How can we find a way to protect the city’s and taxpaers’ interest when it comes to real estate issues and still involve the public.”
Getting early input from the public on city decisions is one of the goals outlined in the city’s 180-day progress report on Becker’s transparency initiative released yesterday. Also in the report is a critique of the city’s web site. The site received a C average out of 37 different categories, including two Fs for not including a way to submit GRAMA requests for city records online and for difficulty searching for public notices. The mayor says an effort is underway to get more information online and to improve the search functions.
“We don’t want you and the public to have to go through a lot of bureaucracy to get information we should have available,” Becker says. “And we got information both from our departments and the steering committee about putting that whole process online and how to make information that’s in government more available.”
Becker believes the city will continue to make significant progress toward the goals outlined in the transparency in government initiative. He says the effort is still in its early phases.