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To say that access to Milwaukee County records has been less than transparent is an understatement. Milwaukee County’s committee agendas are poorly formatted, currently contain little information, lack the associated public input documentation, and almost no committee meetings are carried on TV, so the context and history of legislation is often difficult to ascertain.
In recent years Milwaukee County was put on the e-notify system, and this certainly was an improvement, but it lacks the level of detail needed for open government. Leading the efforts to bring more transparency to Milwaukee County, Supervisor Marina Dimitrijevic, pushed forward a project that will put Milwaukee County’s records into the City of Milwaukee’s Legistar system. The online system will allow for enhanced public participation by allowing citizens to subscribe to legislative files via RSS, search the back history of a piece of legislation, and view the associated documentation. For an example of how this system is currently used by the City of Milwaukee, and will soon be used by Milwaukee County, you can view all of the associated documentation regarding the recent Marriott Hotel project at this link. Once complete, Milwaukee County will proceed with plans to add better access to archived video from committee and County Board meetings. Together these will provide a level of transparency, history, and accountability to Milwaukee County that has been sorely missing.
Early testing of the integration is underway, an e-notify went out with a sample agenda attached, and access to the system should be available to the public in 2011. To get a better understanding of what this system will do for citizens, check out this video from Saint Paul, MN.