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Yoon caves to Saklad

OK, I admit it--that headline is misleading. But seriously: reading through the text of Boston City Councilor Sam Yoon's open-government proposal, I kept thinking: Don Saklad must be thrilled!

Or, maybe not. After all, the word "stenographic" is conspicuously absent...

Anyway, the press release from Yoon's office follows. My quick take is that his suggestions are smart, both substantively and politically:


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE DECEMBER 10, 2008

Contact: Curtis Ellis 617 455-7948

Yoon boosts Internet disclosure for
Liquor Licensing, Gov't Boards

Open Access To Information Can Help Prevent Corruption

(BOSTON) City Councilor at Large Sam Yoon took the first step in bringing openness and accountability to Boston city government. All city commissions and boards would be required to post their members' names, meeting schedules, agendas and minutes on the Internet under a proposal Councilor Yoon introduced Wednesday.

The Liquor Licensing Board and the Zoning Board of Appeals, for example, do not currently disclose members' names or meeting information on line where the public can readily access it.

"I am a strong advocate of open and accountable government that acts within clearly established boundaries. A government that can act arbitrarily and in secret invites corruption, special pleading and trading favors. Sadly, too many believe this is the way our government operates today," said Councilor Yoon.

"To restore people's confidence in government we must change the system that allows officials to act in secret without accountability.

"As a first step, all city boards and commissions – including the liquor Licensing Board - should disclose their members' names, meeting schedules, agendas and minutes on the Internet so the public can see what they are doing. It's time Boston followed practices used by cities across the country to make government work smarter and better," Yoon said.

A partial list of Boston CITY COMMISSIONS and BOARDS:

1. Air Pollution Control
2. Back Bay Architectural
3. Bay Village Historic District Commission 4. Beacon Hill Architectural 5. Conservation Commission 6. Disability (CPWD) 7. Elderly Affairs 8. Election 9. Emergency Shelter Commission 10. Employment Commission 11. Fair Housing Commission 12. Finance Commission 13. Freedom Trail Commission 14. Human Rights Commission 15. Landmarks Commission 16. Public Health Commission 17. Public Improvement Commission 18. Public Safety Commission 19. Audit Committee 20. School Committee 21. South End Landmark District Commission 22. Water & Sewer Commission 23. Women's Commission 24. Zoning Commission 25. Board of Appeal 26. Boston Industrial Development Financing Authority 27. Boston Redevelopment Authority Board 28. Community Appeals Board 29. Licensing Board 30. Boston Retirement Board 31. Boston Groundwater Trust 32. Neighborhood Housing Trust 33. Neighborhood Jobs Trust 34. Library Board

TEXT OF RESOLUTION OFFERED BY COUNCILOR YOON:

RESOLUTION IN SUPPORT OF PUBLICLY POSTING CITY COMMISSION/BOARD MEMBERS, AGENDAS, MINUTES AND SCHEDULES ON THE CITY WEBSITE


WHEREAS, In an effort to inform the citizens of Boston and the public at-large of the purpose, function and operation of each City Commission and Board, it is necessary to regularly update information made available on the Boston City Website. Openness in the democratic process and a clear understanding of the issues affecting the city and its residents is not simply a priority, but rather a right and an expectation of the residents of Boston; and,

WHEREAS, With over thirty (30) Commissions and Boards representing critical issues across the city, citizens must have access to accurate information regarding these meetings and subsequent action taken. Knowledge of who the appointed Commission and Board Members are, who appointed them and the limits of their terms promotes accountability in the governance process.

WHEREAS, Furthermore, as the Open Meeting Law applies to all governing bodies, including Commissions and Boards (M.G.L. c. 39, s. 23A), the difficulty in accessing clear and convenient meeting information over the Internet remains particularly troubling. Posting agendas, minutes and schedules of meetings will allow members of the public to attend meetings, make public comment and track the progress of the committee;

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, That an on-line repository of information pertaining to all City Commissions and Boards include membership (including term limits and who made the appointment), meeting schedule, agenda, minutes, and committee structure be created immediately in an unobtrusive, clear, concise format found on the City of Boston Website.

Filed on: December 9, 2008
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