All Politics is Local

Madore has done good things for open government

At Wednesday’s board time meeting of Clark County commissioners, the county’s lead public information officer shared with the board her disappointment over a recent television news story that painted the county’s new “open checkbook” platform as something necessary to combat fraud. She felt it insinuated the county had issues with transparency.

I haven’t seen the report in question, but I can say the reason for the “open checkbook” is because of freshman Clark County Commissioner David Madore’s desire to see more information made publicly available, and not because the county has had issues with fraud.

As we reported yesterday, the new system was put in place because Madore thought the information should be made available when he first saw it after his election to the board.

It’s a really responsive system, and it absolutely offers an easy way to check out what the county is spending money on.

It’s also not the only thing Madore has done to make Clark County more transparent.

Toward the beginning of his tenure in office, Madore was irked by some of our reporting. He felt he was misquoted. We disagreed, and suggested we may begin audio recording the meetings. Madore responded by having the county record the meetings and put the information online. He hasn’t challenged a quote since. And he hasn’t shied from the idea even when recordings have been used to compare and contrast his flip-flop on a position.

From that point on, Madore began putting more and more online. He’s uttered the words “we should put that online” on multiple occasions.

The Madore term for the online repository is “The Grid.” It’s a web page loaded with documents from commissioner meetings. And it’s grown rather robust since Madore took office. It even has a “The Grid” button on the county’s home page now.

Have there been hiccups? Oh yeah.

After the audio recording of the May 1 meeting – where Madore and Commissioner Tom Mielke appointed state Sen. Don Benton, R-Vancouver, to a director role – was placed online, Madore felt that wasn’t enough and had the county pay for a transcription of the audio.

He later uploaded an email chain that he called a confirmation of a job description for Benton’s new role. Clark County Commissioner Steve Stuart took issue with that, pressing Madore to acknowledge that the job description had never changed. Madore wouldn’t answer that question, but he did agree to some basic rules on how information is uploaded, and acquiesced to Stuart changing the name of the document on the website.

So yeah, hiccups.

But has it been easier to get information? Oh yeah.

And for that, you can mostly thank Madore.

Erik Hidle

Erik Hidle covers Clark County government for The Columbian. He can be followed on facebook at https://www.facebook.com/ehidle, on Twitter at @col_clarkgov or contacted by email at erik.hidle@columbian.com

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