Friday, January 30, 2015

County Commissioners respond to editorial: Transparency for All


The best advice I received when I was elected was "never pick a fight with the person who buys ink by the barrel." However, I have no choice but to respond to the self-serving editorial in Friday's newspaper. It is easy for the newspaper to give a one-sided perspective on Dan Thurlow's bill, in which your Mesa County Commissioners whole-heartedly supported. I testified at the hearing in FAVOR of transparency.

I keep thinking of the single mom, struggling to make ends meet, who is not one of the 30-40% of people who can afford a subscription to the newspaper. Is she not equally entitled to know how her Commissioners are spending her hard-earned taxpayer money?

What the editorial did not mention were the facts:

1) Mesa County, along with many counties across the State, publishes County financial information right now on our website, for FREE. Under the Colorado Open Records Act, we are required to also give this information to those who request it, either electronically or in hard copies.

2) An amendment to Thurlow's bill required this same information to be provided to the newspapers for publication and, if they really cared about transparency, could publish it for FREE.

3) Counties are the only government entity that is required to publish our financial information in the newspaper. The State, municipalities and special districts are exempt from this requirement, despite the fact that they fund their operations with your taxpayer money as well.

4) The publication costs are paid with taxpayer money, out of the same general fund that supports core government services, like public safety.

5) Your taxpayer money is being spent to subsidize the newspaper industry.

Transparency should be available to all people, FREE of charge.

If the newspaper industry truly cares about transparency, they should run a bill to mandate that all levels of government equally provide transparency to their constituents and force the State, municipalities and special districts to all publish their financial information in the newspaper.

Your Mesa County Board of Commissioners believes in transparency, free for all constituents, at all levels of government.

Board of Mesa County Commissioners
Rose Pugliese, Chair

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