Editorial: Put government records online

Staff Writer
Mount Shasta Herald

As the national Sunshine Week winds up, a number of towns in the region were honored at the State House for their work putting public documents up on their Web sites.

Sunshine Week is the annual event in which newspapers shine a light on the importance of making public records accessible to everyone. On Thursday, Common Cause, a nonprofit citizen lobby which also advocates for openness in government, honored 117 cities and towns for continuing improvement in using the Web for public records.

Through stories in the MetroWest Daily News over the past week, residents got a town-by-town look at municipal Web sites and learned about the policies and practices of the person (or persons) in each community in charge of deciding what goes online and when.

Communities are making great strides using the Web for the public good. But there is much work to be done. Every town should, at minimum, have up-to-date meeting schedules for every board, committee and commission, just like what town clerks post and update in town hall. Every town Web site should have the latest minutes of every town board meeting online, as well as the tentative agendas of upcoming meetings.

Residents should be able to find contact information for all board and committee members and employees, such as town managers, town clerks, assessors and tax collectors. And residents should have easy access to property assessments, local health inspections, town calendars and everything to do with past and future town meetings.

We praise the communities receiving E-Government Awards this year: Ashland, Bellingham, Holliston, Hopkinton, Marlborough, Maynard, Northborough, Sudbury, Weston and Wrentham. And we look forward to all towns in the region meeting the standard of opening public records on the Web well before next year's Sunshine Week rolls around.

The MetroWest Daily News