Kennewick shows the way to keep things in the open

Kennewick City Manager Bob Hammond has been showing the city's new touchpad technology around town for awhile.

It's used to tally the feelings, even the mood, of an audience in the same way movie and television executives measure audience response to what they're seeing -- with a little electronic touchpad.

He recently demonstrated it for city council members.

The equipment showed the majority view on a given subject and the minority view too.

There was only temporary balking when Hammond explained that in the interest of public access, the equipment, when used by council members in session, will show individual votes as required by law.

Who voted how.

After Hammond discussed the need for public disclosure, the council members weighed in unanimously in agreement.

Here, recorded by Herald reporter John Trumbo, is how it went:

* Councilman Don Britain, who initially expressed surprise that his vote would be public, decided he has no problem with it now.

* John Hubbard: "I have no problem with transparency."

* Bob Olson: "Nope, no problem with doing everything in the open."

* Sharon Brown, mayor pro tem: "I have no problem letting people know how I vote. It's important."

* Mayor Steve Young: "I believe it's important the public know where each council member stands."

* Bob Parks: "I wanted everyone's vote up there. I want to know where our people are coming from."

* Paul Parish: "It's for the benefit of the people."

Although it is true that we are in effect congratulating people for simply obeying state law, we think it's important.

From time to time, we learn too late of government actions taken in secret. Sometimes disclosure comes long after there is time for the public to do anything about it.

Then we have the weak-kneed who say either their lawyer made them do it or who seem surprised by the state's sunshine laws. "Gee. Is that really the law?"

Yes, it is.

So congratulations, Kennewick City Council, for doing things the right way. Keep it up.