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Easton Town Clerk Urges More Transparency

The town clerk's office has a plan to improve government transparency in Easton. Nearly 30 volunteer committees and commissions in town provide a range of services, but not one has contact information on the town's website .

"They certainly ought to have that information available," Town Clerk Derek Buckley said in a phone interview. "The town really should require that they" post their email addresses and/or phone numbers.

Much of this information is readily available, so Buckley and Assistant Clerk Joan Kirk thought it would be easy to persuade appointed officials to include their contact information online. But members expressed many concerns, complicating the efforts of Buckley and Kirk. "It's a little bit strange," Buckley said of people's desire to remain unlisted on the town website.

One solution could be the establishment of a Freedom of Information advisory board. In 1999, Connecticut passed a law intended to assist citizens with information requests. That law also included a draft of a model ordinance to help municipalities establish FOI advisory boards. That could help a town improve its transparency, something that Buckley said is paramount in the public sector.

"It's an issue because we're supposed to be an open government," he said. Buckley also suggests that the town could relay messages between residents and the committee members. Residents "need some way of contacting people," he said.

Currently, only the elected officials and paid staff have phone numbers online. Not a single member of the Planning and Zoning Commission has personal contact information available – all inquires are directed to P&Z Clerk Margaret Anania. However, many are listed in the town directory.

"It's just a matter of making it easier for people," Buckley said. The relative opposition to his cause may make that quest a bit harder than he anticipated.

Tell us your thoughts. Should Easton include the phone numbers and/or emails of appointed officials on its website?

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