Blogs » Man Bites Dog » Will governmental message boards increase transparency?


Transparency in all levels of Texas government will see a boost come Sept. 1.

The San Antonio Express News reported this week on the changes, which allow official message boards, video-conference meetings, and update the Public Information Act.

-Texas officials at all levels of government can now communicate between official meetings using an Internet message board maintained by the governing body. Although the practice has previously been banned, the forums, which will be up and going in September, will be accessible to the public and content will be searchable and archived for six years. (So long as the boards are easily accessible and not buried in a governmental website, this could be positive.)

-Texas officials can use video conferencing technology to participate and even vote in meetings they can’t physically attend, as long as the public can hear and see them, the Express News reported. (Again, so long as the video conferences are easy to find, and the user has a high enough and reliable internet connection to watch along, this could also be a positive. Technical issues on either end could create a problem.)

-Electronic messages sent by a public official relating to government business, whether on a private or public device, will be accessible to the public. The Victoria Advocate is still waiting for phone records and emails sent between some city council members around the time of the May 11 election. That case is currently in the hands of the Attorney General. Although that sort of information has already been ruled as public, the law is now explicitly precise about it.