July 24, 2009

Ensure Transparency! Council Meetings Must Be Open

Next week, the DC Council will hold two marathon — but private — sessions to come up with a plan to close a major budget gap. Each Council member has been asked to come prepared with ideas for cutting up to 12% of the budgets of the agencies they oversee.

These full-Council meetings should be open to the public, to ensure transparency for residents upon key decisions that will affect their lives.

Bread for the City has signed on to this letter below, circulated by the Coalition for Community Investment. You can sign on -- send an email to Jenny Reed at the DC Fiscal Policy Institute (include your ward and/or your organization's name).

July 24, 2009

The Honorable Vincent C. Gray
Chairman, District of Columbia Council
1350 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Suite 504
Washington, DC 20004

Dear Council Chairman Gray:

We, the undersigned organizations, are writing to request that you make open to the public the Council’s budget deliberations that will occur during the week of July 27. We believe that making all full-Council sessions accessible to the public is critical to having an open and transparent government in the District of Columbia.

It is our understanding that the DC Council will meet as a whole on Monday July 27 and Tuesday July 28 to work out budget and revenue decisions to address the District’s budget shortfall. Those decisions will have a major impact on the services received by DC residents and on the taxes they pay. If the meetings are not open, it is likely that the public will not be aware of the decisions before the July 31 vote. This means that residents will not have an opportunity to offer insight and feedback on critical budget decisions that the Council will make.

The Council currently allows members of the media to attend these kinds of meetings. Accommodating members of the public should be possible, as well.

We thank you for considering this matter.

(Please repost or tweet this TODAY with the hashtag #SOSdc.)

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