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North Country News
Thu April 4, 2013
Dichotomous Organizations Form Website and Non-Profit
Two non-profit think tanks with opposite philosophical views have teamed to create a joint website to promote state and local government transparency in Vermont.
The Public Assets Institute, a liberal leaning group based in Montpelier, and the Ethan Allen Institute, a conservative think tank in Concord, Vt., created the jointly operated website vttransparency-dot-org. The website has been active since 2009 and the two organizations have now formed a new non-profit, Vermont Transparency, Inc to advance and maintain the site.
Paul Cillo, President of the Public Assets Institute, says the new non-profit will build on the partnership and manage the website. Also, it can receive donations to maintain the site.
The principals in Vermont Transparency believe that because the two groups have opposite public policy perspectives, it will enhance the credibility of the information on the website. Ethan Allen Institute founder and Vice President John McClaughry.
Vermont Public Interest Research Group Executive Director Paul Burns praises the efforts of the two groups.
The are other open record efforts occurring in the state. Paul Burns notes that Vermont received a C-plus in a recent nationwide report on transparency. He calls it an improvement because the state had created its own website, albeit not a user friendly site.
Vermont Transparency contains 20 years of state budget data, and contains the only searchable database of payments to vendors doing business with the state. There are also links to school district data and municipal websites and a guide on how to find state information.