Ninety-six county websites were among 247 sites recently named 2013 Sunny Award winners. The annual Sunshine Review award program, now in its fourth year, recognizes the best state and county government websites in America for transparency. County award winners were chosen from among 1,000 qualifying government websites and graded on a 10-point transparency checklist. Judges compared content available on government websites against their guidelines for what should be provided. They sought information about budgets, meetings, lobbying, financial audits, contracts, academic performance, public records and taxes. Evaluations were performed in February 2013. “The Sunny Awards recognize governments that make transparency a priority,” said Michael Barnhart, president, Sunshine Review. “The winners of the Sunny Awards are cities, counties and school districts that proactively share the public information that empowers citizens and keeps government accountable to the people.”
Santa Fe County, N.M. was one of 38 counties to receive an A-plus rating, having every section required by the Sunshine Review. The county, for the second straight year, had its budget visible along with contact information for administrative and elected officials, meeting schedules and a public records search among the required items. “Santa Fe County is honored to receive a Sunny Award,” Commissioner Daniel Mayfield said. “Our county understands the importance of transparency and is continuously working to promote and increase transparency. This would not be possible without the work of our public information office and our dedicated staff.”
Pinal County, Ariz. was also rated an A-plus for its transparency in government. County bids, proposals and RFQs are listed on the website, as well as a searchable database of contracts the county has with its vendors. The county also hosts financial reports, including monthly expenditure reports, campaign finance reports and searchable tax information. “The board has been clear about making the website a hub for free public access to information.[Board members] continue to challenge us to create more ways to do county business through the website,” said Heather Murphy, Pinal County communications director. Allegheny County, Pa.’s was one of 58 county websites to receive an A-minus rating, meeting every criteria except one, lobbying. Otherwise the county’s sections on county commission meetings and public records helped Allegheny receive its award. Florida led all states with 11 counties followed by Georgia and Virginia with nine receiving A-minus or higher ratings. No California, Utah or Nevada counties earned an A-plus. Since its inception in 2008, Sunshine Review has analyzed the websites of all 50 states and graded more than 613 county, city and state governments A-plus or A-minus.
Sunbeam Family Services has been serving Oklahoma’s most vulnerable citizens for over 100 years by providing quality care for the poor. Sunbeam services include Counseling, Early Childhood Education, Foster Care, and Senior Services.
The County Clerk’s Office is going to organize and promote our 1st Annual Supply Drive for Sunbeam Family Services. We will be collecting supplies for the Emergency Shelter for Seniors, Emerson Alternative High School Early Head Start and their Wish Lists are below. Spring is the best time to clean out your closets and pantry’s to make room for new. Many of the items needed are inexpensive such as dish soap and hand sanitizer. To see a list of needs visit Sunbeam Family Services. Want to donate cash and not be bothered with shopping? No problem, there are people in our office that use Extreme Couponing as a lifestyle and would love to stretch your money (no matter what amount) as far as possible.
Let’s make a difference in the lives of many that are less fortunate than us!
For more information see Tiffany Ellis in Room 108, call 713-7174, or email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Essex South Register of Deeds John O‚ÄôBrien announced today that he will be seeking over $22 million dollars from the Mortgage Electronic Registration System, ‚ÄúMERS‚Äù which represents several major banking conglomerates.¬† O’Brien bases the $22M number on the fact that the Salem registry has recorded over 148,663 MERS mortgages since 1998.¬† After a careful review of a number of these mortgages O‚ÄôBrien said it became very clear to him that MERS had assigned mortgages to other entities at least twice without paying a recording fee.¬† Based on this information the taxpayers have been defrauded out of $22,299,450 in Southern Essex County alone.¬† It is quite possible that in some cases they may have assigned the notes more than twice resulting in even greater loss of revenue. O’Brien called MERS “one of the greediest schemes ever perpetrated on the American people.¬† They have compromised the integrity of the public land recordation system and in doing so, have wreaked havoc on our economy‚Äù.
Last week MERS announced a major policy change conceding that assignments should be recorded in the various Registries across the country and ‚Äúassignments out of MERS‚Äôs name should be recorded in the county land records, even if the state law does not require such a recording.‚Äù In addition MERS instructed its members to ‚Äúnot foreclose in MERS name‚Äù. O’Brien further states ‚ÄúMERS has now finally acknowledged that their business model was flawed, and they didn‚Äôt adhere to the legal requirement that all assignments of a mortgage must be recorded at the local Registry of Deeds.‚Äù¬† ‚ÄúIf they had followed the law the public would know who was buying and selling their mortgage, and it would have been an open, honest and transparent process.¬† The fact that they deliberately chose to create a for-profit private cyber Registry of Deeds whose only purpose was to avoid paying the same fees as everyone else and keeping the public in the dark as to who was the rightful owner of the mortgage clearly demonstrates to me that this was a scheme of epic proportions.‚Äù¬† ‚ÄúWhen Wall Street and these major lenders joined together in creating MERS, they plunged us into a housing nightmare with little or no regard for their actions.¬† It’s obvious that their only motivation was to manufacture huge profits off the backs of homeowners and taxpayers. They should all be ashamed of themselves and step up to the plate and do the honorable thing and make the taxpayers’ whole,‚Äù O’Brien said.
The Essex South Registry of Deeds is one of 21 Registries in Massachusetts which have recorded MERS mortgages .O‚ÄôBrien estimates that based on his conservative estimate of two assignments per mortgage the Commonwealth may be owed statewide upwards of $200 million dollars in lost recording fees.¬† Nationwide, the amount of revenue lost could be in the billions. O‚ÄôBrien is calling on MERS to come clean and inform the registers of deeds across the country as to the number of times they assigned mortgages to other entities. ¬†¬†Only then will we get a true picture of the economic impact that this fraud has had on our country.
O‚ÄôBrien, who in November, 2010, notified Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley about MERS, will now be forwarding to her this additional information. ‚ÄúWe need to act quickly to recover these funds,‚Äù O‚ÄôBrien said.