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December 08, 2016
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Toward a more open government

Ron Hiatt

Information is power. To control information is to control action. The fewer who know, the easier it is to take action that can benefit private rather than public interests. To avoid even the appearance of impropriety, let the meetings be public. I would go so far as to digitally record the proceedings and make them available at the county website. It is simple and cheap. The public should be able to hear and decide for themselves.

It has been said when you get 10 politicians in a room, you end up with 15 opinions. (And when I talk of politicians, I also include union representatives. They, too, are elected and must play to their voters as well.) Cynicism can arise from too little information no matter who disseminates it. In place of the fear of mischaracterization or misunderstanding, let the public see and arrive at its own or different understanding.

Inclusion is simple and pure and is as valid as the truths that gave rise to our institutions of open government and free press. And if there is a little more commotion attendant at these meetings, so much the better. It’s simply sauce for the goose.

[Ron Hiatt is the outgoing legislator for District 8 of Sullivan County.]