Breaking News: BGR selects State Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg as its 2014 Byron Baer Awardee – save the night, December 18
This award is annually given to someone who has made a material difference in carrying out for today the transparency and openness commitments and legislative achievements (including the NJ Open Public Meetings Act) of the late Byron Baer. please click here. Award night will be Thursday, December 18 where we will also seek your input for what should be the 2015 BGR foci. The event will be held in the Rutherford Room in the Student Union on the Teaneck Campus of Fairleigh Dickinson University.
See below: You can still watch Issue-specific Forum Segments from the two BGR Bergen County Forums
Don’t miss the key December 4 workshop where BGR’s continuing work on Municipal Transparency draws in both local officials and transparency advocates and seeks performance tests that work
Join us on December 4 at the Ethical Culture Society (Larch and North, Teaneck) for an important county-wide meeting on Municipal Transparency. Ridgewood Mayor Paul Aronsohn and Teaneck Council Members Castle and Sohn headline a growing list Bergen County local officials who will be sharing their efforts to assure that their municipalities operate more transparently. And municipal transparency advocates will describe some of their strategies.
A key issue in clarifying transparency performance is whether there is data – and the tools to interpret it – that together will allow comparative evaluation of municipal mechanisms and practices & create transparency incentives. In August BGR first began an exploration of how different governments (both county and municipal) are doing in making information available to their citizens. A major initial focus was a Monmouth College study which rated each municipal website in the state(see references below). But websites are only part of the story
A Major New Tool to Test Transparency. The State itself now issues a municipal “best practices” checklist and many of those practices focus on open process and the availability of information about those governmental activities to the public. EVERY MUNICIPALITY IN THE STATE OF NEW JERSEY MUST COMPLETE THE CHECK LIST AND SCORE WELL ENOUGH ON IT TO QUALIFY FOR ITS FULL COMPLEMENT OF STATE AID. We believe very few citizens even know of the existence of the best practices process (a snip of page 2 Teaneck’s answers from the 2013 check list is depicted here – have you ever seen it before?). We have initiated a study of how that checklist was developed and will be reporting on how excerpting it will clarify how well your township is doing. But it may well be that citizens will want to explore key answers with the local officials
How can we get Bergen County citizens acquainted with this list and the way in which they might use it to build better transparency in their own community. Two steps:
1) We began a two-part exploration of this state process and its implications for building local municipality transparency with a small one-hour clinic on the night of November 6.
2) On Thursday night, December 4 – at the Ethical Culture Society North and Larch in Teaneck. BGR will hold a full public session that builds on what we have learned to-date. And BGR is bringing to this meeting public officials and advocates who will describe their experiments and ideas for how best to make these openness processes work and how to build public confidence in their practices and procedures.
Where can you get access to the answers Bergen County Communities gave to the Best Practices Checklist? The state’s latest collection of them is for 2013. Click here to get access to it. Here you will also find there an analysis by SC member Ed Lipiner of the logistics as well as the strength and weaknesses of this state program tool for the purposes of helping municipalities assess and build governance transparency
You Can Continue to See Issue Segments from BGR’s County Office Candidate Forums
A month before the Novemober 4 election, Bergen Grassroots sponsored forums at the Teaneck Library Auditorium that involved all 6 of the 2014 candidates for elected Bergen County office. They were the first County forums/debates of the year. The first (9/30) session involved the 4 candidates for the two open positions on the Bergen County Board of Freeholders (the county legislature). The second (10/2) session featured the two candidates for County Executive. Both sessions have gotten extensive media and internet coverage.
BGR, Inc. has built two new pages on our website where video “issue” segments from each of these 2 forums can be watched. Our goal even post-election is to allow you to see the candidates discuss/debate the issue(s) which are of greatest concern to you. The first page provides you with readily “clickable” issue segments from the Freeholders forum. Click here . The second one provides you with access to forum video segments from County Executive candidate forum. Please click here.
BGR, Inc is extraordinarily appreciative to all the candidates for their participation and are grateful about the information about candidate views that emerged.