City of Bell, Calif. Unveils New Transparent Website

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Reflects New Era of Open Government and Community Participation

City of Bell, CA website Vision Internet government corruption trial

City of Bell, CA, Unveils New Transparent Website

“The City of Bell is a model of civic renewal and we are proud to have played a part in the journey.”

BELL, Calif. (January 24, 2013) Two years after its municipal pay controversy forever changed the way citizens across the country scrutinize local government finances, the City of Bell, Calif. has unveiled a new city website that makes city legislative activity and financial data easy to find and accessible to all citizens.

The new website http://www.cityofbell.org, designed in collaboration with Vision Internet, a national leader in government website development, and launched on December 24, 2012, was officially unveiled in a presentation to City leaders and local citizens at the January 16th open meeting of the Bell City Council.

“The City of Bell City Council’s desire for open government and greater information transparency had a great influence on the design and features of the Bell website,” said Steve Chapin, Vision Internet president. “Inspired by Bell’s commitment to good government reform and its dramatic turnaround, our government website design experts worked hand-in-hand with the City’s website team to create a website that serves up detailed data about how City government works and how taxpayer dollars are spent.”

Guided by the "10-point Transparency Checklist" created by the Sunshine Review, a non-profit organization dedicated to educating the public about proactive disclosure; Institute For Local Government guidelines; and State of California transparency laws; the new Bell website features a “Transparency” tab on the main navigation toolbar, which is dedicated to presenting citizens with easy-to-find detailed financial information and other public documents.

“The new City of Bell website is an important tool in our effort to move the City forward and enhance transparency to City Hall functions,” said Bell Mayor Ali Saleh. “We have brought City Hall to residents’ front doors providing detailed information about local government and its services – information that can be conveniently accessed 24/7. By creating a new space in the virtual Bell neighborhood we’ve also relieved long lines at public counters while enabling residents to easily find recreation classes for their children, download City applications and forms, and submit public records requests directly to the City Clerk. This new website isn’t just a stark contrast to the past; it’s a complete 360 degree turn that clearly demonstrates our continued commitment to transparency.”

Bell citizens now can easily find and review the annual city budget, financial statements, investments, salaries of all public officials and employees, and even the city’s electronic checkbook. Other options under “Transparency” include Bell City Council policies, details on taxes, zoning and building permits, and Statements of Economic Interest by city officials with decision-making authority.

As a result, Bell is being called a model in the ‘quiet revolution’ in local government. “Local budget crises, the growing number of online social and mobile platforms, and the public’s expectation of 24/7 access are changing the relationship between local government and its citizens,” Chapin said. “Transparency is the key that can open the door to community problem solving. Nowhere has this been more apparent than in the City of Bell’s new approach, where the dedication of newly–elected public officials, administrators and City employees have resulted in this innovative community portal.”

An important feature of the new website is the incorporation of Google Translator to accommodate the needs of Bell residents who prefer to receive information in their native languages, including Spanish and Arabic.

For those members of the community who do not have internet or computer access, the City continues to provide free public access computers at all City facilities including parks, the Bell Community Center and the Bell Technology Center, where residents can surf the Web and explore the new City of Bell website.

“The age of government transparency is still in the early stages as the momentum shifts from ‘Should we do it?’ to ‘How do we make government data easily accessible to those who need it?’” Chapin said. “The City of Bell is a model of civic renewal and we are proud to have played a part in the journey.”

For more information about Vision Internet’s transformative government website technology, please call 888-263-8847 or visit http://www.visioninternet.com/freedemo.

About Vision Internet
Headquartered in Santa Monica, Calif., Vision Internet is the national leader in government website development with nearly 500 government, non-profit and education clients across the U.S. and Canada. Over the past 17 years, Vision Internet has created industry-defining websites for communities ranging in populations of less than 1,000 residents to more than 5 million. The company has earned hundreds of prestigious industry awards for its unique websites, and recently launched its latest content management system visionCMS™, a powerful, easy to use tool developed with feedback from hundreds of municipal clients. For more information visit http://www.visioninternet.com

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