Mon. Apr 22nd, 2024

By Samuel Strait, Reporter at Large – January 10, 2021

It doesn’t seem all that long ago that the citizens in this Country were
viewed as the employers and the government was considered the
employees.  At least that is what the founders of this once great nation
assumed would be the dynamic if this new form of government had any
hopes of surviving.  The government at the national level was meant to
be small, with only a very few tasks to accomplish, the States not much
more.  When I view either, it is impossible to characterize them as
“small”.  With National budgets running in the trillions and State
budgets in the Billions nothing about government in the United States
can be considered small.

At the local level we seem to be following the example of the National
and State governments and along with it an alarming trait, lack of
transparency.  While I wouldn’t even speculate about the process for
learning about how National and State agencies operate or the complex
nature of how they spend their allocated funding, it should be much
simpler to access what people in government at the local level do and
how the money is spent. Yet, when I view our County’s government, or
even the City’s, an even smaller one, I immediately become aware of a
complex arrangement of Boards, Authorities, and Councils that are
responsible for overseeing not a few hundred thousand dollars , but
millions.  That would appear to be for most folks a tremendous
obligation for those as our representatives to assure the taxpayers that
the money was spent wisely.   As governments have abused the trust of
those employers over the years, an increasing call is being made for
those asked to represent us to be more transparent.  It doesn’t appear
that the message has been received all that well as we continue to be
rewarded constantly with glimpses of regular government malfeasance.

I think that the original concern by the founders of the United States,
was as government grows, transparency wanes.  For a period of time we
depended on the good offices of the local press to be inquisitive enough
to keep at least superficially the government on the straight and
narrow, but with continued growth and the deterioration of news
services, that has been missing for some time.  We seem particularly
afflicted with it for many years now, and it will likely get worst
unless we demand accountability from our Boards, Councils, and
Authorities.  We can no longer assume we are getting the best government money can buy, because it simply isn’t true.  Unless we have a more informed electorate, we will continue to have scoundrels spending taxpayer money in ways that benefit only the scoundrels.

I say this because it has become an onerous task, just to get public
information that should be freely available to anyone who requests it.  
Not only have local agencies been shy about revealing public
information, but in many cases out right refusal to assist has become
more common.  While that in its own right doesn’t mean something’s up,
history of abuses over the last twenty or more years should raise a few
eyebrows.  Not only that, but when discrepancies have been revealed,
nothing happens, and its all chalked up to “honest mistakes”, if it even
graces the public view.   Growing governments seem to equate to
lessening of transparency, something to consider in our case at the
local level.

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