New open government legislation went into effect recently, letting the public finally get answers to some long-lingering questions, like how much did the city of McAllen pay entertainer Enrique Iglesias for a 2015 concert?
According to the Texas Tribune, Iglesias was paid $485,000 for his performance and “provided with a chartered flight from Guadalajara, Mexico; two dozen hotel rooms; and an assortment of sushi and sashimi.” That’s a huge amount of public money spent on something far outside the proper role of city government, and it helps explain why local officials fought so hard for so long to keep it under wraps.
Bringing this information to light is just the start. There’s much more to come. And that’s a good thing. People have a right to see how their tax dollars are being spent. That’s one reason why the Texas Public Policy Foundation joined the Texas Sunshine Coalition, a nonpartisan, grassroots group that advocates for greater government transparency. The coalition, which includes almost one-and-a-half dozen organizations from every end of the ideological spectrum, fought for a number of open government changes last session, including the open books initiative above.
The concealment of local government spending information epitomizes the pervasive public sentiment of government distrust. Distrust is so entrenched within the public consciousness that government has entered a crisis of credibility in which trust in almost every public institution has waned. Let’s keep fighting for transparency, so that government can remain accountable to the people.