Five vying for public seats on Utah State Transparency Advisory Board

1 08 2013

Members of the Utah State Transparency Advisory Board are sifting through five applications for the two newly created public seats on the board.

The new positions were created when the Legislature passed SB77, Sen. Deidre Henderson’s bill expanding the scope of the board from improving access to financial data to all government records. Henderson, R-Spanish Fork, was recently named as the committee’s chair.

The five are Steven Bagley, general manager of the Utah Department of Transportation’s Lester Wire Library and a technical writer; Christopher Bleak, president and CEO of the Utah Association of Public and Charter Schools and former executive director of the Utah Republican Party; former Rep. Holly Richardson, who is also a member of the State Records Committee; Phillip Windley, former state chief information officer; and Jason Williams, a technology consultant and talk-show host on KVNU.

Richardson, Windley and Williams also served on the GRAMA Working Group, which reviewed the Government Records Access and Management Act (GRAMA) in the wake of the HB477 controversy. Richardson also received Black Hole awards from the the national Society of Professional Journalists and its Utah chapter as part of the 2011 Legislature that passed HB477, the bill that would have gutted GRAMA.

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Sen. Deidre Henderson named transparency board chair in absentia

10 07 2013

Wednesday was supposed to be Sen. Deidre Henderson’s first meeting with the Utah Transparency Advisory Board.

But Henderson, a Spanish Fork Republican who is taking the place of Senate President Wayne Niederhauser, wasn’t there. Instead, she was attending a meeting of the National Conference of Insurance Legislators in Philadelphia.

But her new board colleagues came up with a suitable punishment: They unanimously elected her as the board’s new chair, a post also previously held by Niederhauser.

“Pick on the person who isn’t there,” Henderson tweeted after learning about her appointment.

Henderson sponsored SB283 during this year’s legislative session which expanded the board’s duties to provide access to more than just financial information through the state’s transparency website. Her bill also expands the board’s membership, including adding two public seats to the board.





Utah Gov. Gary Herbert signs bills promoting government transparency

26 03 2013

Gov. Gary Herbert signed two of Sen. Deidre Henderson’s bills that aim to make more public information accessible.

SB77 requires public bodies to post draft meeting minutes on the state’s Public Meeting Notice website within 30 days of a meeting, and an audio recording of a meeting within three days of the meeting. Sen. Kevin Van Tassell, R-Vernal, tried to amend the bill to exempt smaller communities, whom he claimed would view the posting requirement as a hardship, but that change was rejected.

SB283 moves the Utah Transparency Advisory Board from the Department of Finance to the Department of Administrative Services, and directs it to look at ways to make more public records accessible through the Internet. The board already has made financial information, such as salaries, available through the state’s Transparency website.

The Utah Media Coalition, which includes  The Salt Lake Tribune, gave the bill a “pale light” rating due to the requirement that its recommendations be approved by the Legislature. That provision, the coalition noted, could have a chilling effect on the recommendations.