September 16th, 2010 at 5:37 pm
In a year of budget cuts, DPS is whining about the cost of publishing the Sex Offender Registry. According to one of their spokesmen, eliminating the registry could save $3 million a year.
The Open Records Project published the first Internet Sex Offender Registry in the country in 1998. We had to fight a legal battle with DPS to get the information. Our volunteers periodically uploaded the data to our server and maintained the database. We designed special software to handle the load which peaked at 400 searches a second in late 1999.
There are now 35 states that publish registries. The Open Records Project no longer publishes the data but links to the state sites.
If the DPS wimps out, The Open Records Project volunteers will once again publish the Sex Offender Registry. If it costs them $3 million a year to do, there must be a large pit in Austin that is full of money.
October 23rd, 2009 at 2:31 pm
A society might be more trusting if citizens could see the tax returns of all their fellow taxpayers. Norway is doing exactly this.
To be complete, Norway might also publish the citizens receiving taxpayer funded services.
Some possibilities ramifications to consider:
- Norweigian Tim Geigthners and other tax avoiders might be turned in by their neighbors.
- Those “heavy users” of free taxpayer funded services might be embarrassed into moderating their avarice.
August 4th, 2008 at 1:03 pm
Those of us who tackle the taxpayer funded bureacracies often experience the arrogance and hypocrisy of so called civil servants first hand.
A New York activist who goes by the handle “Jimmy Justice” captures bureacratic arrogance and hypocrisy on video for all the world to see.
Our personal favorite is this New York Board of Education employee eloquently explaining why rules only apply to the little people.
The concept of open government and open records encourages government by peer pressure where embarassment is the weapon of choice.
July 21st, 2008 at 5:57 pm
Enron avoided public scrutiny of many of its shady business dealings by placing them out of public view in off balance sheet entities.
Now the employees of Washington taxpayers are using a similar ruse to place their activities out of public view with an entity called Association of Washington Cities.
The first item of the Association’s WEB page under WHAT DOES AWC DO? lists “Legislative representation.” In layman’s terms, this collection of taxpayer elected officials spends taxpayer money to lobby other taxpayer elected officials to give them stuff.
Of course they are embarrassed when the actual voters and taxpayers come asking pesky questions. The Association is claiming exemption from the Washington State Public Records Act.
To find out more information on this off balance sheet public entity, interested taxpayers might want to contact the president of the Association, Karen Rogers, who is also an elected Councilmember from Port Angeles, and the proprietor of Karen Rogers Consulting, a company that specializes in government affairs according to the Port Angeles WEB page.
The nationwide Open Government statutues were created precisely to keep “government affairs” from becoming private affairs.
July 9th, 2008 at 2:38 pm
The Houston Chronicle has posted a computerized database of 81,000 public employees of various local entities including City of Houston, Harris County, and the Houston Independent School District.
Some readers have objected to the publication of names and salaries as a violation of privacy.
Most readers have argued that public employees work for the public and are thereby subject to public scrutiny.
March 25th, 2008 at 12:24 pm
Leroy Schad molested an 11 year old boy. Now District Judge Ron Svaty has sentenced him to five years of probation and house arrest, and ordered him to prominently post signs declaring his sex offender status
Schad said the loneliness and isolation imposed by the house arrest are the toughest to deal with.
March 19th, 2008 at 12:26 pm
Government bureacracies implement a standard set of dodges to avoid the accountability that comes from disclosure.
In its dealings with FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency), The Advocate newspaper has been the victim of two of the most common ploys to avoid disclosure:
1. Charge extraordinary amounts for copying,
2. Provide information in the most difficult to use for possible, preferably paper.
March 11th, 2008 at 8:10 am
Arlington Mayor Robert Cluck said he would not name the lone pharmaceutical chemical found in the city’s drinking water.
Once again a “people’s servant” concludes that he knows what’s best for you.
The Open Records Project remembers similar arguments against release of sex offender names and addresses. “Trust us” the bureacrats said. Of course we finally prevailed, published the records, and found that sex offenders were working in day cares, Boy Scout offices, and numerous schools.
We suggest that every reader of this blog give the mayor a call and ask him to explain why he is covering up a potential health problem.
February 24th, 2008 at 10:49 am
The Texas Department of Public Safety plans to update its online sex offender registry this spring to let people know where offenders work or go to school. https://records.txdps.state.tx.us/DPS_WEB/Sor/index.aspx
Anyone can go to the state’s site to look up a person by name or ZIP code. The information includes physical descriptions, photos, offenses, aliases and legal status. People also can use a map to find sex offenders who live in a particular neighborhood.
When the registry is revised, sex offender records will also show complete registration histories, former addresses and conviction information in Texas and out of state.
Ruth Epstein, a spokeswoman for the American Civil Liberties Union of Central Texas, said people’s ability to find sex offenders in their workplaces or classrooms raises privacy concerns.
The Open Records Project was the first group in the US to post sex offender registration information on the Internet. Following intense interest across the country, the state legislature ordered The Texas Department of Public Safety to provide the information. The recent expansion of the service is the latest in a continuing effort.
February 18th, 2008 at 10:52 pm
During the past five years, nearly half of Oregon teachers disciplined for sexual misconduct with a child left their school districts with confidential agreements.
The Oregon response is sadly similar to that of the Texas Youth Commission and Catholic Archdiocese across the country. They all hid sex offenders so as to not cause inconvenience to their organizations and the nasty public embarassment that accompanies a sex scandal involving children.
Keep Oregon officials’ behavior in mind the next time a school administrator defends whatever they are doing as being, “for the kids.”