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Wednesday, November 16, 2016

OPINION PAGE: CITIZENS WANT TO BE INCLUDED IN GOVERNMENT

Fairhope, Alabama



It has been said that the true test of character is doing the right thing when nobody's watching.

Now that our new city government has been sworn in, let's hope our representatives heed the message sent by the voters last August: they want to be involved in the discussions and decision-making process every step of the way.

That cannot happen though unless state open meeting (aka 'sunshine') laws requiring all of their discussions/debates be during public meetings -- be scrupulously followed: over the phone or privately meeting to discuss controversial matters won't do any more.

The well-used, cynical trick of waiting for everyone to leave after a public meeting ... then continuing discussions after they do isn't acceptable either: that can be a federal crime, if done deliberately as a group.

The Public and media need full access so they can evaluate the issues early-on, and provide feedback to representatives before final decisions are made: If done exclusively in private, special interests only control outcome.

Televising or providing access to recorded meetings and not really discussing or debating anything during them is no substitute for real transparency: that's hypocrisy.

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