by Kathy Felch
The County’s Strategic Plan was developed amid a flurry of meetings at the end of 2018. One of the goals ultimately decided on by the supervisors was to increase the County’s transparency about its operations and actions. Napa Vision 2050 routinely seeks information from the County, including campaign finance reporting and videos of the board of supervisors meetings. We have long suggested posting such information on the County’s website, giving the wider community access and saving staff time and effort in responding to multiple individual requests.
Fair Political Practices Commission disclosures of contributions to our elected supervisors are now posted on the website for the community’s review.
The County now posts videos of the BOS meetings in MP4 format, which allows community members to download the videos directly to their own computers without the necessity of going to the BOS office, paying a fee and obtaining a copy on CD.
We also pushed for the posting of minutes of the BOS meetings to the County’s website. Although the minutes eventually may make their way to the website, as of November 2019 the County had not posted minutes of its meetings since May 21, 2019. Shortly after our inquiry, minutes from May 21 to August 21 were posted. We sent another inquiry about why the remaining minutes were not posted. We are happy to report the minutes of the entire year, except its last meeting on December 17, are now posted and available to all who want to review what our Board of Supervisors has actually done.
One more step is in order. None of the minutes are signed. We are advised that this is because the County wants to protect the individual supervisors from identity theft by making their signatures available online. While protecting our supervisors from potential criminal activity is an admirable goal, it is worth noting that none of the signatures submitted by the community, and indeed some from outside our community, that are posted to the County’s website are blocked out (redacted) leaving interested and active community members potentially exposed to the criminal activity the County protects our supervisors from.
While we move toward making the complete official records of the County’s actions available to the public, the website has been modified to advise how one may obtain the complete official records. Kudos to the County for making changes that increase community access. Let’s keep up the good work and get our complete official records available online. Using the best available technology here saves the County and the public from the delay, frustration and expense of making individual requests for public records that are legally required to be available to all.