by: Diane Benjamin
If you read the City of Bloomington website, you would think they are all about transparency. The City has bigger problems a website will never fix.
The City culture is non-transparency and non-adherence to laws that get in their way. The numerous complaints filed with the Attorney General’s office are evidence of that. Refusing to submit the information requested under a Freedom of Information Act request is another indication. Side note: I haven’t filed half of the complaints I’ve found evidence of.
Nothing will change until the elected and City employees understand who pays their salaries! They aren’t a corporation trying to make a profit. They aren’t there to gamble with money that isn’t theirs. They already did that with the Coliseum and the BCPA – the citizens are the big losers.
They aren’t finished gambling – the next BIG money will be spent downtown. Maybe this is why David Hales wants a Communication Director. Somehow citizens have to be convinced the City has the best interests of citizens in mind when taxes and fess are raised, more money is borrowed, and essential services and duties aren’t funded. Hales plan: hire a professional spinner – just like the Big cities.
It would also help if Mayor Transparency didn’t hide the fact that he is behind taking representation away from citizens. He helped write the referendum that will be on the March ballot. Add Aldermen Fazzini, Fruin, and Black assisting in the effort, and citizens have a perfect picture of the Bloomington City culture: Smile and act like you are there to help while conspiring against you in secret.
Here is what the City wants you to believe, as posted on their website:
“City staff has worked over the past few months to improve documentation on the City’s website by adding the “Transparency” portal on the homepage or going to http://www.cityblm.org/transparency.”
“Government transparency is a priority for the City and we will strive to improve our transparency every day. I have directed staff to continue to improve the City’s website and request a rescoring from the Illinois Policy Institute by April 30, 2014” said City Manager David A. Hales.
“Staff plans to continue to improve the information available on the City’s website over the coming months and request a re-score from the IPI with the goal of 85 or higher by April 30, 2014. The City Manager is encouraging residents to visit our website and comment on what information they would like to see available or email his office firstname.lastname@example.org.”
The City could convince more people if their actions matched their words. Maybe releasing the minutes of old Executive Sessions would help. Citizens don’t have a right to know who supported giving Tom Hamilton huge raises? The Mayor obviously doesn’t think anything said in Executive Session is private. Council? Maybe publicly NOT supporting the referendum would help too.
Yes, Mr. Mayor. Bloomington needs a culture change – just not the one you are pushing.