By Kathryn Watson | Watchdog.org Virginia Bureau
ALEXANDRIA — Essex County officials won’t be keeping any more secrets.
Not if a small band of fired-up residents can help it.
They’ve started essexcountysunshine.org.
Together, the half dozen or so contributors — led by publisher and retired Marine John Clickener — intend to raise the D-minus grade Sunshinereview.org gives the 11,000-person county government in regard to overall transparency.
“Our goal is to encourage and assist local government to be so open and so transparent that we put ourselves out of a job,” Clickener told Watchdog.org Virginia Bureau in a phone interview Friday.
EssexSunshine.org, or ESO, contributors post links to open meetings laws, pour over government documents and write news and commentary pieces to ensure local arms of county government — from the board of supervisors to the school board — operate with the openness called for in the Virginia Constitution and Code of Virginia.
They’re already making a difference.
Just this week, the county’s board of supervisors and school board began giving more details about the topics and decisions coming out of closed meetings, beyond a number reference.
Clickener called it a “minor win.”
He said the group is always looking for suggestions on ways to improve the site and to correct any errors.
“We’re advocating for better government in the sense that we strongly feel that the more open and the more transparent they are in process, the better government’s going to be, and the more engaged … we hope the public will become,” he said.
Watson can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.