Disclosure: this writer appeared in front of this task force for a “media panel.”
Jacksonville’s slogan, “It’s easier here,” doesn’t extend to navigating local government or getting real information from it, according to a group of community leaders assembled by former City Council President Anna Brosche.
In its final report, the Jacksonville City Council Task Force on Open Government offered an indictment of Mayor Lenny Curry’s administration and the Jacksonville City Council on transparency issues.
The panel, co-chaired by trial lawyer Hank Coxe and former Jessie Ball DuPont Center head Sherry Magill, says city government makes it “difficult for the public to understand governmental processes and decisions.”
Mayoral staff review of public records requests and disallowing journalists to interview department heads: two of the black marks identified.
The City Council also gets dinged for not posting text messages and emails to a public portal. Indeed, the only Council communications available without a public record request are emails to the whole Council. And text messages, for anyone in city government, are not made available without said PRR.
The city website is dinged for being hard to navigate, and lacking attention to SEO or navigation; the city budget for being hard to understand; public notice processes are “archaic.”
Whether legislation will emerge from this or not is a different matter.
The task force was a priority of former Council President Brosche, and it is by no means certain that her Council colleagues share her interest in increasing transparency in the ways the task force recommends.