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Konop urges more online data

Lucas County should provide for greater transparency by posting its annual budget and all campaign finance records online, Democratic commissioner candidate Ben Konop said yesterday.

"There's no reason to hide from the public," Mr. Konop said. "It's the public's money."

In order to boost participation among citizens, the three-member commissioners' board should meet later in the day, hold more meetings outside of downtown Toledo, and broadcast those meetings or stream them via the Internet, Mr. Konop added.

The recommendations come in the wake of scandals involving Republican fund-raiser Tom Noe using local politicos to launder donations to President Bush's 2004 re-election campaign and former Toledo City Councilman Bob McCloskey pleading guilty to bribery charges.

Mr. Konop suggested that the region's economic malaise is tied to an atmosphere in which decisions "are made in back rooms with envelopes of cash."

Establishing a sense of openness via the Web would help the government attract businesses to the area.

Toledo City Councilman George Sarantou, the Republican running for commissioner, also favors making government more accessible to the people.

"As a longtime public official, I've always believed that government should be open and responsive to voters," he said. "That is why I continuously go to neighborhood meetings, Block Watch meetings, and mayor's forums throughout Toledo."

The call for greater transparency is far from partisan.

Republican candidate for Toledo City Council Dave Schulz lists similar policy initiatives on his Web site,

"If we just let politicians make decisions in secret without much public hearing, we're going to suffer for it," Mr. Schulz said.

The cost of scanning government records into digital files would be minimal, Mr. Konop said. Still, local politicians have yet to fully embrace the opportunities presented more than a decade ago by the Internet.

"Most of our elected officials really lack the creativity to come up with new ways of doing things, to embrace technology," Mr. Schulz said.

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