Submitted by Teo Graca
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Holding Those In Power Accountable
Choices Available At The Voting Booth: Others decide what you can choose, and they are almost always two sides of the same coin. Shouldn't we have a say in what choices become available? We do to some extent, but there is a way to make it readily available to ANYONE - not just those few that become part of the process.
Virginia still has a good ballot voting system, and we are protected somewhat from the Dubold machines through:
Class 5 Felony for anyone involved in tampering with the voting process.
The Vision: I would like to see this extended to include public disclosure of ALL processes, meetings and associated communications between decision makers prior to bringing new legislation to a vote.
The Reality: Everywhere, this is still a secretive process - more secretive as the power of those decisions affect the most people. To me, this violates the stated intent of so many of the basic sections of our Virginia Constitution.
For example (See Constitution Of Virginia):
- Article 1, Section 2. People the source of power. "all power is vested in, and consequently derived from, the people"
- Uninformed people have no power...
- Article 1, Section 14. Government should be uniform. "no government separate from, or independent of, the government of Virginia, ought to be erected or established within the limits thereof."
- Keeping decision making processes as a secret is (to me) the creation of a separate, independent government.
- Article 1, Section 15. Qualities necessary to preservation of free government. "free government rests, as does all progress, upon the broadest possible diffusion of knowledge"
- There you have it. Knowledge, derived from publicly disclosed information, is the key.
As an information architect developing web-based applications, I can tell you this is easy to accomplish technically, and not just for Virginia.
The Problem: By the time the issues come to a vote, decisions have already been made about what choices are available, and being able to easily access the information about how these choices came to be available, who made them, and which representatives voted yes/no is currently difficult to impossible.
The Solution: Provide an online database showing the progress of every decision, including but not limited to: names and positions of those involved, their publicly paid salaries (if applicable), funding received, budget including prorated salaries of those public officials involved (based on actual time spent), etc. Money spent on decisions shows the weight and push of these decisions, and can be used to demonstrate any violations of intent (if applicable).
The Benefit: Easy access to information showing who is responsible for any action that comes to pass, or has come to pass allows everyone to see what is actually going on - we, the people, need to know so we can affect any power properly.
Current Affect Of Hidden Processes: It's sad that those who affect us the most are the least accountable, while those that affect us the least are the most accountable.
Side Note: I noticed when I contracted with a federal agency for a short time, and as the job board listings crossed my desk, that drug testing was mandatory for federal jobs that paid less than $80,000 per year, and NOT required for those positions that paid more - Accountability was the opposite of the way it should be, in my opinion.
Shouldn't those with the most power be held to the highest accountability?
(c) 2012 by Teo Graca