in Houston, Texas
Sunshine Week 2012: Celebrating open government -- in Texas and around the nation
Monday, Mar 12, 2012, 03:50PM CST
By Steve Miller
sunshine

It’s that week again, the one where we celebrate the idea of transparency known as Sunshine Week.

At Texas Watchdog, every week is Sunshine Week, but it’s great to see there are still media outlets that find time and space to talk about the importance of an open government. You know, one in which the people who pay for the records actually get to see them.

  • The Austin American-Statesman does a fine job outlining the importance of the state’s Public Information Law, as well as noting some recent challenges.
  • USA Today notes that Texas is among the dozen or so states that still has laws that prevent the people from seeing who gets what kind of pension, laws that we have lamented for some time. You know things are going to move slow when the very people who would be subject to such information are charged with ruling on it.
  • The Fort Worth Star-Telegram does a sterling job with its own op-ed on keeping the government open. It, too, laments the lack of transparency regarding public pensions in Texas. In a ray of hope, its piece reports that state Rep. Lon Burnam (D-Fort Worth) will introduce legislation next session that would expose the dread “double dippers,” which the Star-Telegram and other media outlets have reported on as occurring as a pattern.

Here at Texas Watchdog, we base the bulk of our reporting on public information.

  • We exposed fraud and open records violations at the Texas Windstorm Insurance Association after records showed a pattern of malfeasance at the agency, which was eventually placed into state receivership.
  • With the help of public records, we exposed the flawed workmanship in weatherization of homes for the poor that cost $22 million in federal stimulus grants. We found coverups for the poor work, false claims of work performed and handiwork that wasn’t so handy, all taxpayer funded.

Here is our bible, the state Public Information Handbook.

"Sunshine." Just saying it makes you smile, and it's great anywhere and any time you can get it.

***
Contact Steve Miller at 832-303-9420 or stevemiller@texaswatchdog.org.

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