At least one item on the Greensboro City Council's agenda for next week is simpler than it sounds: A resolution brought forward by District 4 Councilwoman Nancy Hoffmann on a "transparency and timeliness in reporting" campaign finances is designed to encourage candidates to file mandatory financial reports electronically.
Hoffmann said the League of Women Voters brought the issue to her, which was timely because she was already planning to use the software to report electronically.
"We live in the 21st century, right?" Hoffmann said, adding that it would be easier to read than scratched handwriting on some reports, easier to transmit and save time at the elections office.
The resolution won't compel city council candidates to file electronically, it would just encourage them to do so.
Speaking of Greensboro City Council, a $1.5 million funding request from the International Civil Rights Center & Museum has been postponed from the council's agenda again to allow museum staff to provide more financial information. The item is now on council's Aug. 20 agenda, and the money would be paid over three years.
The meeting, which is normally held on the first and third Tuesdays of the month, was moved to Monday at 4 p.m. due to National Night Out on Tuesday.
As an aside: Having read through tons of campaign reports, the prospect of not dealing with illegible handwriting is definitely alluring. Numbers and names are frequently difficult to decipher, causing confusion. It may also be easier to search for specific donors or expenditures with a typed, electronic file, increasing transparency and making our watchdog role easier.
On the other hand, Jordan Green has experienced software glitches with electronically filed reports that provided inaccurate information, which is also a real concern. Either way, candidates can expect to be hearing from us to verify names and amounts when reports are available. I also wonder how some candidates — like Jean Brown who said she doesn't have a computer — will react if it's passed.
UPDATE: Several candidates filed a "certificate of threshold" which means they won't have to provide as strict finance reporting because they expect to spend less than $1,000. Mayoral candidate George Hartzman, at-large contenders Joseph Landis and Marlando Pridgen, District 3 candidate Corey Pysher and Sal Leone and Alex Seymour in District 5 all filled out a threshold certificate. If any of them ends up crossing the $1,000 mark — as Councilman Danny Thompson questionably did in 2011 — they are required to notify the elections board and follow normal filing procedures.