Citizens Have Chance to Stand Up for Real – not Phony-Baloney – Transparency

Nancy Mitchell of the Rocky Mountain News has reported that Denver Public Schools (DPS) plans to cut the budget by 2 percent.

To its credit, DPS already has made some moves toward financial transparency, but not to the degree that Senate Bill 57 (PDF) would have DPS and every other Colorado school district and charter school do. At least the original version of SB 57.

I told you last week how many citizens came to testify in favor of school districts adopting the relatively simple and cost-effective approach of posting expenditures online in a user-friendly, searchable format. But a majority of legislators on the Senate Education Committee hijacked the bill and made it merely a suggestion – a worthless way of pretending to support transparency.

Tomorrow morning (Tuesday, February 3) SB 57 will be debated before the entire state senate, and we’ll get to see whether our legislators support real transparency or the phony-baloney kind.

Over at YourHub, Lakewood citizen and transparency supporter Natalie Menten says the debate provides an opportunity to send a strong message to state lawmakers:

Help by showing up at the state capitol on Tuesday, Feb. 3rd. The Senate will convene at 9 or 10 AM, firm time will be posted Monday, read below. Go to the Senate gallery on the 2nd floor. Senator Ted Harvey, prime sponsor of Senate Bill 09-057 and co-sponsor Senator Mike Kopp, will lead the charge to amend the bill back to the original intent. Senator Harvey will ask the Senate to recognize us in the Gallery and ask that we stand in support.

Your attendance is important, essentially you’ll represent a hundred or thousand people who can’t take time off work to be there or live too far from the capitol. One of the three paid opponents of public school transparency testified last Wednesday that people don’t care about seeing what a school spends. The reality is that the public currently only gets to see budgets and budgets tell you little.

If you’re like most people and can’t get away from a day job or other binding obligations (please let me out of school!), you can find the contact information for all 35 state senators over at the Colorado Spending Transparency blog.

Technology has put online financial transparency very much within reach. Taxpayers deserve the information, and many have sent the message to school officials: “If you can’t defend it, don’t spend it.” But time has come for citizens to stand up again.