Electronic documents were supposed to be the ultimate answer to government openness. Reams of information could be bundled and sent off en masse with basically no overhead and no dead trees, and it would take a few seconds of clicking on a computer rather than hours at the copy machine.
Even though transmitting electronic documents costs virtually nothing to local governments, there’s still a charge associated with this service in many cities. This week I learned that while everyone at Fountain Hills Town Hall is super friendly and helpful, they also charge 50 cents for the first page and 10 cents each additional page to e-mail PDF documents.
So, an electronic file containing 77 pages of public records that takes just a few seconds to attach to an e-mail costs $8.10.
Having access to information about what politicians are doing is critical for my job, but it’s also a right everyone in this country shares. It’s beyond frustrating that even though I’ve already paid for the work of public officials with my tax dollars, I have to pay yet again to be able to see exactly what is being done with my money.
— Chrystall Kanyuck is an
investigative reporting intern at
the Goldwater Institute.