Collaboration in Civic Spheres

TVW video of Seattle conference panel on open government’s future

by March 13th, 2012

In 1972 Washington state voters were concerned about government accountability and ethics for a wide variety of reasons, some emanating from within the state and some from without. As a result they approved Initiative 276, creating an initial version of what is now the state’s Public Records Act, as well as the state Open Meetings Act and the state Public Disclosure Commission. The PDC daylights and regulates campaign contributions to and financial interests of elected officials. The successful citizen activists who launched and propelled the I-276 campaign later morphed into what is now the Washington Coalition For Open Government.

This past Saturday March 10, WACOG held a conference looking at the impetus leading to I-276’s passage, while also celebrating the present-day successes of citizen activists for public transparency, and looking at what the future holds. I was honored to be part of that latter panel on behalf of the 501c3 Public Eye Northwest and our Public Data Ferret project. Other guests were civic apps developer Ram Arumugan of Cascade Software Corporation; City of Seattle CIO/CTO Bill Schrier; and TVW President and CEO Greg Lane. Moderator was Mike Fancher – Vice President of WACOG and former Seattle Times Executive Editor.

Right below we’ve got the full 60-minute video of that forum, as aired on TVW, Washington state’s non-profit public affairs TV channel. Fancher began by framing the conversation in the context of the Knight Commission’s special report in 2010, “Informing Communities: Sustaining Democracy In The Digital Age,” which he helped author. Among the findings that still resonate strongly, he said, are that:

  • “…the information health of communities is as vital as safe streets, clean air, good schools and a vibrant economy, but…we don’t tend to think of information health in that way;” and,
  • “…the same technology that is disrupting professional media and causing the loss of so many journalistic resources in so many communities is also creating great opportunities for journalism and democracy.”

Here’s the video on the panel looking at open government’s future, including the role of technology and new media.

TVW has also posted the video of the day’s panel, “Open Government’s Past: Birth and Survival of I-276.” It features David Ammons, former AP Olympia Bureau reporter and now communications chief for Washington Secretary of State Sam Reed; Karen Hildt, widow of I-276 campaign leader Michael Hildt; and former U.S. Sen. Slade Gorton.


Ram Arumugan, Cascade Software, “How Technology Should Be Used To Spur Open Government,” Geek Wire, March 11, 2012.

Matt Rosenberg, Amplify Accountability, Technology To Boost Open Government,” Knight Commission blog, March 12, 2012.

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