The D-minus Minneapolis received earlier this year for its efforts to provide online access to city spending records is “unacceptable,” according to mayoral candidate Stephanie Woodruff.
“This is something that is really critical to our citizens today,” said Woodruff during a Thursday news conference on the Lowry Avenue Bridge. “I’m out in the neighborhoods knocking on their doors, and it’s a huge issue for them.”
To illustrate her point, Woodruff referred to the funding package for the Vikings stadium. In her view, citizens were misled about the ability of the city to divert the sales tax revenue and were told that such revenue could be taken away by the Legislature.
“They [the citizens] don’t really feel that City Hall values what they have to say,” said Woodruff. “They literally say, ‘We got screwed.’ They don’t feel engaged whatsoever.”
She wants to increase access to city financial transactions by posting the city “checkbook” online. The lack of this information, easily accessible, is one of the reasons cited by USPIRG for the city’s low grade. New York and Chicago, which post this information, received the highest grades of the 30 cities included in the study.
“It’s not expensive to do,” said Woodruff, an accountant by trade and the part owner of a Silicon Valley-based technology company. “It’s a matter of priorities, a matter of commitment because when you can engage all of the residents and have open data and open government, everybody is empowered.”
Minneapolis had posted the city “checkbook” online but dropped the service with the explanation that there was not much interest in the data.
“If someone says the public is not interested in this, therefore we’re not going to do it, that’s not good enough,” said Woodruff. “It should be a given that our government has that type of transparency. The taxpayers deserve to know that information.”