Across the country, all levels of government are tripping over each other trying to become the most transparent body in the country.

In a separate effort to show and tell all, increasing numbers of police departments are providing transparency by equipping their ranks with body cameras to record interactions with citizens.

Locally, the city of Newport Beach gets an A+ for their transparency efforts. On their website,  taxpayers can find every salary and benefit for every employee, the MUOs with labor gruops, and much more.

In Costa Mesa, there is a button on the website labeled, “City Transparency” and the following message:

“Costa Mesa is California’s most transparent city, posting a wide array of public information on its website, including every check written by the city, legal fees and settlements, and the most detailed public employee compensation report in the nation. Costa Mesa also has enacted the Civic Openness In Negotiations (COIN) ordinance to provide stakeholders with unprecedented access to the city’s labor talks.”

The achievement of transparency starts at the top, with President Barack Obama declaring the need to be honest. In his memo, “Transparency and Open Government,” the president wrote, “Openness will strengthen our democracy and promote efficiency and effectiveness in Government.”

He did not write, “Openness will strengthen our democracy and promote efficiency and effectiveness in Government, unless you are a school board, in which case, transparency is not required.”

The entire memo, part of the Federal Register, can be viewed at:

These days, every agency wants everyone to know everything. Almost.

Visit the N-MUSD website and you will be surprised not by what you see,  but by what you don’t see.

  • You will find the most recent budget, but you will not find a list of the checks.
  • You will not find a single word about the district’s cyber security policy that would prevent another grade-hacking incident like the one at CdM High.
  • You will not find a list of the legal fees paid to date to prevent John Caldecott from revealing the alleged transgressions of the superintendent and the school board.
  • You will not find anything on the controversy surrounding the fence at Adams Elementary School.
  • And more…

Why isn’t the district more transparent? Because taxpayers have not demanded it. Because four of the seven board members have been in office for nearly 100 years, combined, and complacency rules.

If you’d like YOUR school board to improve their abysmal transparency, you can let them know one or all of three ways:

  1. Call them

Martha Fluor: Home tel. no: 949-251-9170

Judy Franco: Home tel. no. 949-675-2603

Walt Davenport: Home tel. no. 949-645-0875

Vicki Snell: Cell no. 714-904-1253

Charlene Metoyer: Cell no. 714-313-7257

Dana Black: Cell no. 714-390-8247

Karen Yelsey: Home tel. no. 949-640-9591

  1. E-mail them

Martha Fluor:

Judy Franco:

Walt Davenport:

Vicki Snell:

Charlene Metoyer:

Dana Black:

Karen Yelsey:

  1. Speak at board meetings

Held every second and fourth Tuesday of the month at 6 p.m. at 2985 Bear St., Costa Mesa, 92626. The phone number there is (714) 524-5000.

Thanks for reading.

Steve Smith