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A new 2017 Open Government Initiative is underway with an important addition!

In 2016, Keystone Crossroads, the statewide NPR affiliate, did a story on the Open Government Amendment as part of a statewide review of government openness.   Their reporter, Margaret Kraus, found nothing in or outside Pennsylvania that did as much.   Her conclusion:   “It puts citizens in the middle of government.”   This year the Amendment is even better, and petitioning is currently underway.

Angry Top-down Politics vs Real Bottom-up Change

The 2016 election year brought to the polls large numbers of first time voters and those who seldom vote.   The overblown hype and distrust that was sown proved to be quite divisive and has wasted energies which could be put to more productive use.   By focusing entirely upon the selection of public office holders, we've been missing the boat hoping meaningful solutions might trickle down.

We must realize that, by its very nature, electoral democracy is really a matter of top-down governance, regardless its level, and that government in its present form is insufficient to address today's challenges.   Though electing good candidates is important and not to be discounted, it's time that we also devote attention to building a new bottom-up approach through which average citizens can work together within the halls of government to better monitor and hold it accountable while they catalyze needed change.

4 pillars of the Open Government concept

When most people hear the phrase "open government." they think of "transparency," but, while it is essential, that's only one part of what it takes.   There are actually four essential pillars -- transparency, notification, public participation, and accountability -- all of which are necessary to have truly open government.   By implementing these first through a comprehensive set of reforms at the municipal level, beginning first with one (hopefully Pittsburgh) and then a number of communities, we can build a base of open government that can eventually be expanded to other levels of government too.

Pittsburgh Open Government Amendment

Synopsis

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ew Article 6 -- The Amendment deletes the present Article 6: Community Advisory Boards which is now irrelevant because City Council abolished all of the City's Community Advisory Boards, effective December 31, 2000.   In its place, the Amendment will substitute a new Article 6: Open Government which expands upon the recent Open Data legislation passed by City Council, providing greater opportunities for public participation in the governance of the city, including an ability for individuals to be notfied about legislative and administrative actions before they occur and assuring that Council and the Mayor give more attention to resident's input.

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