THE INTERNET seemingly holds all the answers, until, in all too many cases in Northeastern Pennsylvania, you want answers about your government.
When and where, for instance, can you attend the upcoming board meeting for the public school district supported with so many of your tax dollars? Can you access an online copy of the school district's budget? How much money does the district – say, Lake-Lehman or Wilkes-Barre Area – spend to transport youths to sporting events? Which companies consistently win contracts to supply certain services and products? What official business transpired at the last board meeting?
You should have easy access to the inner workings of Pennsylvania's public school districts, as well as your municipal, county, state and federal governments. The technology exists in 2012 to make their activities – all supposedly conducted on your behalf – an open book.
Yet often people are kept in the dark.
The situation should be particularly troubling to residents of this region, where rampant public corruption on the part of elected officials at many levels has spawned so much shame, delayed economic progress and shortchanged the people.
That's why newspapers such as The Times Leader consistently tout "Sunshine Week." This year's version of the awareness-raising campaign starts Sunday. The campaign "seeks to enlighten and empower people to play an active role in their government at all levels, and to give them access to information that makes their lives better and their communities stronger," according to its promoters.
Separately, organizations such as Virginia-based Sunshine Review regularly monitor government websites and grade them on transparency. Its most recent analysis, released Thursday, gave solid grades to Pennsylvania's state government website ( www.pa.gov), two counties (Allegheny and Philadelphia), one city (Pittsburgh) and six school districts in the state. None of those school districts is in our area.
Luzerne County residents should question whether this region's layers of government lag in giving them the answers they seek and the online information they deserve. And if so, why?
Learn about Sunshine Week at www.sunshineweek.org.