No Taxation Without Information

We all decry the amount of money spent by our government and complain about earmarks and other wasteful spending. How many of us are out there actually doing something about it? The Independence Institute of Colorado has been leading a been leading the way towards more spending transparency .

Natalie Menten of has been using the Colorado Open Records Act (CORA) and the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) to look into how our tax dollars have been spent. Here are some examples of expenditures by members of the Jefferson County School District:

  • January 30, 2008, $1200 deposit for two cabins on a Carnival Cruise.
  • For all the talk in the media about obesity and wellness issues, these statements show an enormous amount of money spent on food.
  • August 8 to September 8, 2008, almost $17,000 to King Soopers mostly for food or food supplies.
  • August 8 to September 8, 2008, almost $1200 to BlackJack Pizza. (I don’t blame them for this one. I love BlackJack!)
  • August 8 to September 8, 2008, almost $4500 to Domino’s Pizza.
  • August 8 to September 8, 2008, over $1500 to Einstein Brothers’ Bagels
  • August 8 to September 8, 2008, over $3200 to Jason’s Deli
  • Pages of food expenditures that include Safeway, Starbucks, Red Robin, 240 Union, Landry’s, Walmart, Albertson’s, Carino’s, Chili’s and more.
  • Gift cards to Sam’s Club and Sears.
  • January 14, 2008, $247.88 “Replacement IPod for intern.”
  • Expenditure for “Election 2008.”
  • Lunch expenditures with Norma Anderson, honorary mill levy increase ballot issue chairman.

These are just a few examples of how tax dollars are being spent by the largest school district in Colorado who also complain regularly about how they don’t have enough money to properly educate our children.

Today [Nov 4] the Jeffco school district is asking voters for a $350 million bond issue and an additional 4.4 mill levy increase for operating expenses. Of course, if “it’s for the children” then how can any voter say no! Here’s how…remember our motto: No taxation without information!

Attempts to pass a bill that would create a searchable online database for government spending has so far been killed in committee, but there will be a renewed push to implement this during the 2009 Colorado legislative session.

Larimer County’s own Kevin Lundberg (CO-49) voted in favor of the bill last year that died in committee and will continue to lead the charge next year for spending transparency.

This is an area where we can all get involved at the local level. Head down to your local government offices and place an Open Records information request. Be sure you consider Natalie’s recommendations, especially the warnings about potential fees. Nothing says I’m watching you like publicly declaring how our tax dollars are being spent.

Night Twister