News & Views

More Local Agencies Getting Ahead Of Transparency Curve

This is from the California Special Districts Association e-newsletter:

CSDA has been made aware by a number of member districts that some media outlets are now submitting Public Records Act requests for information regarding base salaries, benefits, board member compensation, loans, “perks” provided and other items. We felt it was important to advise our members so that you can begin preparing the information internally should you receive such requests.

Further, some districts have already taken the extra step in transparency to post information online, such as salary ranges for positions, benefits offered and contracts. These districts are proactively demonstrating their openness to providing information to the public, media and others that may be interested.

Proactive transparency by local governments is an example of good policy that is also smart public relations. The ongoing scandal enveloping the City of Bell has deepened citizens’ cynicism toward government. The best way to show Bell is an anomaly rather than representative is for local governments to serve as their own watchdogs and embrace maximum transparency and interaction with residents.

Media coverage of local government is increasingly characterized by what I call “public records act journalism”: reporters submit wide-ranging PRAs to local agencies, then sift through the document trove in search of stories. Rather than wait their turn on the media chopping block and hope for the best, more local governments should emulate those cities and special districts that are prominently, proactively publishing the salary and compensation information on their websites. After all, it is public information that the public has a right to know, and putting it out voluntarily helps defuse public cynicism and suspicion — and decreases the likelihood of a city or special district becoming a media target.


Veteran public affairs consultancy Pacific Strategies applies its strategic communications experience and emerging media expertise to help local governments develop and implement communications programs to enhance transparency and positive, interactive communications with constituents.

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Orange County Election Academy Panel To Feature PS Principal

Matt Cunningham - croppedPacific Strategies founder and co-principal Matthew Cunningham has been invited to serve on a media panel for the new Orange County Election Academy, an initiative of the Orange County Registrar of Voters designed the Academy to teach participants about elections in Orange County.

“This unique program will provide insight on the various components of election management in an interactive classroom setting here at the Registrar of Voters’ office.  The goal of the academy is a part of a larger initiative to increase our engagement with the community,” according to OC Registrar of Voters Neal Kelley.

Cunningham will serve on a panel of current and former reporters, bloggers and consultants as part of the Academy’s “Connecting With Voters” class:

This class will feature a media panel of reporters, bloggers, former candidates, and consultants who will discuss media coverage surrounding elections. Students will understand the role and importance of media in campaigns and elections from a variety of perspectives. Students will learn about the tools available for staying in touch and obtaining information, including the website and various social networking websites. This class will also cover the ways that candidates and campaigns can gather and use information that is available at the Orange County Registrar of Voters, such as maps and the voter file.

The other panelists include OC Register political reporter Martin Wisckol and Jean Pasco – who is currently Director of the Orange County Archives and formerly a journalist for 30 years with the OC Register and Los Angeles Times.

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Cunningham Joins Tom Tait For Mayor of Anaheim Campaign

tait logo mediumPacific Strategies co-principal Matthew Cunningham has signed on as a consultant with the Tom Tait for mayor of Anaheim campaign. He will be responsible for the campaign communications efforts: serving as spokesman, deploying and maintaining campaign social media tools, and content development.

Tom Tait, a former two-term Anaheim councilman, is considered the heavy favorite to be elected mayor this November. Tait is president of Tait & Associates, on of Orange County’s leading civil engineering firms. During his tenure on the Anaheim City Council, he pioneered, along with outgoing-Mayor Curt Pringle, the “freedom friendly” policies that have made Anaheim a vibrant, business-friendly city.

“Tom and I have been friends for more than 15 years,” said Cunningham. “There are few public servants I admire more. He will make an outstanding mayor of Anaheim, and I’m proud to be a part of his campaign.”

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