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Out Here

What year is this again?

It's 2012. Of course, you know that.

But sometimes we act as if it were the 1990s or even before.

A couple of weeks ago, a Lee County Board member rejected the idea that the county's website should be the primary source of information on county government. Rather, he advised people to go to the courthouse to get the information they needed.

It was as if the Internet never happened.

In fairness, the county is putting more information online. On my smartphone, I can access the Lee County budget, and you can, too.

Such openness is uneven, however. Whiteside County, for instance, has yet to put its budget on the Internet. The county administrator says "issues arise" when large documents are posted – thus the reason for no budget online.

Believe me, I understand how frustrating computer problems can be, but can't someone with technical know-how help the county? After all, counties and cities around the country post their budgets online. I'm sure Whiteside can, too.

Lee County also has failed to post important documents online. Last year, county officials proposed giving $1.3 million to a truck stop developer as part of an economic development package.

Despite all the attention it received, the proposed agreement with the developer never made it on the county's website. (My mistake: As the reporter covering the issue, I should have arranged for posting the document on our newspaper's website.)

For weeks, the project's supporters complained that the public wasn't getting an accurate picture of what the deal was all about. Yet they never took the relatively easy step of helping educate their constituents – posting the proposed agreement online.

By one-vote margins, the County Board twice rejected the agreement.

It should never have reached the board. No big-dollar deal – especially a controversial one – should make it that far without going online.

It's 2012.

Sauk Valley Media reporter David Giuliani covers the Whiteside and Lee county governments, Morrison and other smaller communities. He can be reached at dgiuliani@saukvalley or at 800-798-4085, ext. 525.


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