8:15 a.m. KTSA Morning Edge Commentary 10/16/2002

Campaign money

We need transparent City Hall money records.

Two ideas that make sense— and don't require appointing committees, or studies, or other political hot air.

One: put all city contract information in a database that you and I can search on the internet.

Two: put the campaign money records of all city councilmen online in a searchable database. Require that the occupation, and employer, of all contributors be shown.

Some of this information is already online, but in a form that almost guarantees no one will go to all the trouble necessary to look at it. Campaign donation and loan reports on the city website consist of what are essentially photographs of pages of paper. The names and numbers cannot be manipulated as with a searchable database.

In addition to the San Antonio city website using an astonishingly inconvenient format, there's another deterrent to citizens examining the money records. Some of the download files are huge and take hours to capture on a slow modem.

If you ask me, if you wanted to keep people from finding stuff out, you would set up the records exactly as San Antonio City has done on its website.

But there's a sunny side for us: someone with training and smarts has dug up some fascinating info from current campaign reports, and tomorrow I'll name names and dollar amounts, here, same time, same station.

I'm Brad Messer with commentary at 8:15 on KTSA's Morning Edge.

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