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Text messages will be fair game. Emails, too. And personnel information such as staff salaries soon will be posted online.
The Salt Lake County Council tweaked its open-records rules Tuesday to make it clear that government records, including electronic correspondence, should be available to the public.
The ordinance calls on employees to err on the side of "openness and transparency" when considering record requests regardless of what form the records are in and asks officials to seek cost-effective ways to better store and retrieve e-documents.
The measure, sponsored by first-term Councilman Arlyn Bradshaw, comes after the Utah Legislature passed, then repealed, a law that would have restricted public access to some electronic communications. A working group now is contemplating changes to the state's Government Record Access and Management Act.
The county ordinance passed unanimously Tuesday with Councilman David Wilde, who had raised concerns about privacy last week, making the motion.
"I want to make it very clear," he said, "I support open government in the county."
Wilde previously led efforts providing public access to the mayor's Cabinet meetings and to board meetings of private institutions that use public funds, such as Hogle Zoo.
The county's new rules do not simply assert the public's right to certain documents. They also include a provision requiring county contracts and routine personnel information such as salaries and promotions to be posted online.
"Although we get some recognition for our website," Bradshaw said, "we can do more."
The transparency watchdog group Sunshine Review recently gave the county's website an A+ for openness.
The ordinance takes effect in six months, giving officials time to work out the details of posting additional information online.
Advocacy group lauds councilman
West Valley City • Salt Lake County Councilman Max Burdick was named public official of the year Tuesday by the advocacy group for low-income people, Community Action Partnership of Utah.
Cathy Hoskins, executive director of the coalition's Salt Lake County branch, praised Burdick as a champion of the poor who has used his influence to preserve funding for CAP's initiatives.
Burdick accepted the award during a National Community Action Awards Luncheon at the Utah Cultural Celebration Center in West Valley City.