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Saturday, July 6, 2013

CEG Letter to Editor in response to HDR opinion on Transparency - Joe Brannock - July 6, 2013

More transparency needed, Hickory - As printed in the Hickory Daily Record - July 6, 2013

No, Hickory Daily Record, you do not really hear us. Clearly, Citizens for Equity in Government and the newspaper agree that governmental transparency is important, even crucial if elected officials and those who work for them are to be prop­erly held accountable. But just as clearly, the HDR seems to think that the burden for ensuring transpar­ency and accountability rests on the shoulders of the people, not the elected officials or the city staff whom we the people pay through our tax dollars. In this regard, you sound very much like some on the City Council and the city manager.

Instead of encouraging, indeed expecting government to do everything feasible and prudent to enhance public access to the ac­tions the Council takes, you blame the people for being apathetic. You argue that “there is no shortage of access.” However, have you consid­ered that not everyone can afford
to subscribe to the newspaper, or that not everyone has access to a computer? Have you considered that even for those who can afford the HDR, only reading your version of what happened in a meeting is not the same as seeing it for themselves?

Had Citizens for Equity in Gov­ernment not urged the council to video tape its proceedings, there is no evidence to suggest that the city would have ever made even one video to put on its website. Now we must ask (because the HDR hasn’t) why they feel it is necessary to de­lete the video after only two weeks. These videos may not be the official minutes of a meeting, but they are public documents and part of the public record. And as we under­stand it, because the city already has an agreement with Charter Cable for access to the government channel, there should not be an extra cost for airing the videos. It is
also worth mentioning how the city had no problems with airing the forum at the SALT Block during the referendum debate on cable when it served their purposes.

Citizens for Equity in Govern­ment agrees with all of the positive suggestions the HDR makes in its editorial.

Indeed, we have been doing just what you suggest for over two years, and we will continue to do so. We also encourage other residents to do so as well.

But whether a council meeting is entertaining or not is irrelevant. We are not looking for a “show,” as your headline implies, simply the great­est degree of transparency feasible, provided to as many residents as possible about how the people’s elected representatives are doing their jobs. We don’t think that is too much to ask.


JOE BRANNOCK

1 comment:

Richard Garrison said...

Excellent letter.

In many ways, some "print" media outlets choose to take the easy route, and just FILL pages with STUFF, not doing the total job of providing true access and representation to ALL readers. Been there and done that in another neighboring community.

Richard Garrison

Morganton