Transparency And Accountability In Government

By: Gary Smollen Email
By: Gary Smollen Email

A recent $200,000 payout by the city of Papillion to a former secretary has sparked new legislation, and has people rallying around "Sunshine Week."

The week highlights the importance of open, transparent government which allows everyone of us to see where the money is being spent.

Jan Huff doesn't consider himself a trendsetter, but he was one of the first people to question the secret agreement the city of Papillion had with the former secretary of former Mayor James Blinn.

We first met Huff last year when news of the payment first came to light.

Jan Huff says, "I am shocked there weren't more people here addressing the, hey, what's going on here."

Huff wanted to know why the money was being paid to Racheal Cascio. Turns out he wasn't alone. There is now a bill before the Unicameral to end confidentially agreements and secret settlements. Huff likes it, to a point.

Jan Huff says, " Anything $50,000 or over they must disclose. My viewpoint is why it shouldn't be one dollar, two dollars, $10, $50, $1,000. If you're going to be paying money out the citizens should know where that money is going out and how much that money is."

Transparency has always been a part of the U.S. system, but few people actually take advantage of their rights.

Douglas County Clerk Tom Cavanaugh is making the process easier. His office posts all the information available to it, from marriage licenses and fees to who sits on which board.

Tom Cavanaugh says, “Most importantly are the financial information of over $300 million that are spent by Douglas County annually we list all the vendors all the people all the suppliers that the payments are made to."

It is a concept catching on as money becomes scarcer, and budgets both at home and in local government are cut.

March 14th – 20th is also "Sunshine Week" to highlight the importance of an open government.

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