Weekly Feature

2017-03-30 / Letters to the Editor

Website report was fair to town

The Buffalo Niagara Coalition for Open Government is an organization of concerned citizens dedicated to making government more transparent.

Recently we released a report where we evaluated the information posted on 16 local government websites in Erie and Niagara counties. We evaluated basic items such as whether meeting agendas are posted with all documents attached; are meeting minutes being posted timely; are citizens provided the opportunity to speak before elected officials vote on items, just to name a few.

Ninety percent of the local governments studied received a failing grade, including the Town of West Seneca, which received a score of 57 out of 100 possible points.

The West Seneca Bee in an editorial criticized our evaluation as being unfair to West Seneca. The criticism by the Bee is that no explanation was given as to how municipalities were selected; the 10 areas for evaluation did not truly analyze the quality of a website; and that more municipalities should have been included.

With a phone call from The Bee, we would have answered any questions. The local governments selected in Erie County were the largest, based on population. As an organization run by volunteers we did not have the resources or time to study more municipalities. We fail to see how West Seneca was treated unfairly, as all local governments were rated using the same criteria.

Other newspapers and elected officials have applauded our report, and some local governments have reached out to us in an effort to improve their websites. It is unfortunate that instead of welcoming our efforts, The Bee and West Seneca Town Supervisor Sheila Meegan have chosen to attack the study and question the motives of concerned citizens, including some that reside in West Seneca.

Paul Wolf
Buffalo Niagara Coalition
for Open Government

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