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Transparent government: Sunshine or colonoscopy?

RESIDENTS of Albuquerque, New Mexico, may, if they so desire, log on to their city’s website to discover that their mayor, Richard Berry, charged $26.75 on his city-issued credit card for AT&T service in September, and that he has earned $91,871 so far this year. If this sounds fascinating, why stop there? Daniel Marzec, an intern, made $5,132. Indeed, as of last month, the name and salary of each of the more than 6,000 city employees is posted online. The city’s vendor contracts, expense reports and various other things have already been there for about a year. Benefits packages are next, says Mr Berry.He is very proud of this transparency. Albuquerque’s first Republican mayor in three decades, Mr Berry is, at 49, an up-and-coming sort. A self-professed wonk (“I will put GPS systems into garbage trucks for better routing”), he based his 2009 campaign on clean government, in a city and state that “was not known for its transparency and accountability”, as he puts it. Now he would like to be seen as a leader of a national movement.In a sense he is. Michael Barnhart, president of Sunshine Review, a wiki…

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