Transparency in government. What are you doing?

Posted on March 31, 2012 by


I always figured what my mother didn’t know wouldn’t hurt me. That’s right, I wasn’t as worried about her as I was about myself. As misguided as that might be, that was the way I operated as a child. For instance, I found a road flare in our garage when I was about 9 years old. I had seen my father light one and I thought I would like to try that. I peeled the paper back, took off the top and struck it against the black substance on the flare and an immediate rosy red flare erupted right there in my hand. Mission accomplished.

It was only a few minutes later when I discovered I could not undue what I had done. I couldn’t even put it out. I tried to bury it and that didn’t work. I tried putting it in water and that didn’t work. I tried stomping it out and that didn’t work and suddenly I realized I was stuck with this bright flare and soon I would be found out. I opted for the only real solution I could think of. I threw it over the fence into the landlords alfalfa field. In a few seconds it was on fire and that’s when things got interesting.

As I ran around the house with a bucket of water my mother asked “what are you doing.?” And I replied “nothing” as I was sure she didn’t need to know but apparently her suspicion was not satisfied. I wheeled around to go after my third bucket and I ran squarely into her as she gasped “what the hell have you done?” All I can recall is that soon the fire department was in the field putting out a 2 acre fire. Our relationship was not so good after that. The trust was gone.

When your local government conducts business without inviting the people to get involved the result is the same. The trust is gone. Everything is suspect even though they may be doing good things. Once that trust is lost it’s time for new leadership in government. The people have a right to know what things are being planned and they have a right to voice their opinion and concerns. In Crook County, Oregon there is a 1,600 acre regional dump that one local official penned “you’re going to get the landfill whether you like it or not.” That wasn’t published but a citizen witnessed the written comment at a candidate forum as she sat next to that official. Regardless of the accuracy of the report the county is going forward as if we will get it like it or not.

The commissioner working on this says he told people he would be working on a regional dump. Perhaps he did but now it’s underground and no information is flowing to the people. I have a question. What are you doing? I’m not the only person asking and yet nothing has been brought forward. As we have seen with other recent projects the deal is made and then the commission presents it with a “you’ll love it” attitude. And maybe we would love it but shouldn’t we have a chance to decide before the deal is done. If they want to keep their jobs they should consider further their inclination to say “nothing” to the people.

Frankly, in Crook County, I think it’s too late. The trust is lost and people from all segments of the community are saying it’s time to change leadership. This upcoming primary will tell the story. If people are done with this lack of transparency they will elect other highly qualified people for the job. If those that benefit from the actions of a behind the scenes commission call their forces we may be subject to more of “you’ll get it like it or not” business as usual.

There is an open door policy in our County Court and I applaud them for that. To make that work you also must have an open mind policy and free flow of information to people. If you attend our County Court you’ll see what’s on the agenda but you will not have a clue about “what’s going on.” It’s time to light a fire under county government to get information out to the people. It’s easy enough if you really want people to be informed. Proposed actions can be posted on the county website or placed in the paper. One of the candidates has already proposed to our local paper a special section to keep people informed and up to date on “what’s going on.” That’s good for everybody.

If you think you have no influence is it because you don’t know “what’s going on?” With a lot of digging one candidate approached our Fair Board and on April 5th there will be a public meeting to discuss a new building. They’ve asked for public input. I know we can change the closed culture of government if we work at it. If we don’t we get what we deserve.

Reposted from The Oregon Report