I was highly suprised to see, in the Glen Rose Reporter of Sept 29, 2010, Mike Ford say that he was interested in " upgrading those parts of our government operations which simplify our constituent's interactions with us".. and went on to talk about being able to look up various records online. "I am prepared to press an agenda that will make upgrade our technological capabilities- make it easier to get what you need from the county".
Let's see. Mr Ford has been the head of the technology committee for a long time, as the county liason, and still has not ensured that basic information such as meeting notices and agendas for the meetings he attends are put online before the meeting. We looked at this in February 2010 and noted then that the website did NOT COMPLY WITH THE LAW.
And it still doesn't. Let me ask you, do YOU care if you know about what the county commissioners are going to vote on and would YOU like to have a chance to go to the meeting BEFORE THEY VOTE? And to HEAR IN PERSON if you can? . I have asked to get copies of the meeting notices when they go out, usually on Friday, and Mary Ann Million is wonderful with sending these out in a timely manner via email. Why did I start doing that some years back? Because there was NO TIME to put those notices in a weekly paper and the only other way you might happen to find out when a meeting was going to occur and what was on the agenda is if you went downtown to look at the outside bulletin board on the square. IF YOU REMEMBERED TO DO IT.Being able to look on the county website is not only a practical way to see what is upcoming but also is required by the law. We also asked back in February what the heck prevented them from being in compliance with the law? Let me repeat what the law is.
According to the Texas Open Meetings Act, if an entity has a website they maintain, they are SUPPOSED TO put the notices up there. See page 35 of the act
§ 551.056. Additional Posting Requirements for Certain Municipalities, Counties,
School Districts, Junior College Districts, and Development Corporations
Section 551.056 requires certain governmental bodies and economic development corporations
to post notice on their Internet Web sites, in addition to other postings required by the Act. This
provision applies to the following entities, if the entity maintains an Internet Web site or has a
Web site maintained for it:
(1) a municipality;
(2) a county;
(3) a school district;
(4) the governing body of a junior college or junior college district, including a
college or district that has changed its name in accordance with Chapter 130,
Education Code; and
(5) a development corporation organized under the Development Corporation
Act (Subtitle C1, Title 12, Local Government Code).175
(6) a regional mobility authority included within the meaning of an “authority”
as defined by Section 370.003, Transportation Code.176
If a covered municipality’s population is 48,000 or more and a county’s population is 65,000 or
more, it must also post the agenda for the meeting on its Web site.177 Section 551.056 also
provides that the validity of a posted notice made in good faith to comply with the Act is not
affected by a failure to comply with its requirements due to a technical problem beyond the
control of the entity.178
In other words, for the county (because indeed the county is part and parcel of the definition above) NOT to post a meeting notice on the website is BREAKING THE LAW.
Finally, after we pointed this out before, they put up a one time regular session dates notice that you can see in a PDF file. But they do NOT put up notices of their special sessions, which occur usually 2-3 times in a given month. Now, they don't have to put up an agenda because of the size of our county, although you'd think that someone that professes to want to give citizens the information they need would do that. Right? So that you could FIND OUT BEFOREHAND WHAT WAS GOING TO BE DISCUSSED AT A COUNTY COMMISSIONER MEETING?
One other thing. It's only since July of this year that the minutes have started being put online, and that falls squarely in Mr Ford's lap as the one to follow up as head of that technology committee. Judy Nawrocki does a great job, now that she finally *can* do it, of putting up the minutes after a meeting.
Again, Mr Ford was the one in charge of this at the county level and he has FAILED with even a simple task to keep citizens informed and follow the law. Let's see. A wanna-be judge who doesn't follow the law.
The same blurb in the paper also says, about the technology advances he wants to sponsor
Does this cost money? Yes.
Well, putting the notices of meetings doesn't cost any money.
If Mr Ford becomes judge, he won't vote except in the case of a tie. That's actually probably a good thing since he has had no problem before with spending lots of money (I'm going to talk about the hospital on a different post). But how's he going to do this? Strong-arm the commissioners who DO vote?
He also said that "Possibly fewer employees are needed as fewer constituents need help "over the counter". I also don't believe it will be his decision to cut county employees but the commissioners who do the voting.
P.S. This site has been consistently putting up meeting notices, check registers, audio from meetings, etc and I can tell you that it takes very little time to actually do it. We have been asking for quite some time for the various governmental entities to do that, with us positng links to the content on their primary sites. In August we did a *scorecard* of how all are doing, and we regularly compliment the sites that are good at keeping the public informed (that includes GRISD and the Water Board). Knowing as we do the time it takes to provide information, even the minimal that the law requires, it's especially puzzling why Mike Ford would want to use this as a campaign plus.