Transparency plus accessibility equals accountability
There has been much said, both for and against, Mooresville's Gateway Project, the redevelopment commission and the town council recently — some of it correct, some of it incorrect. And it can be difficult determining which is which.
“To cover with the veil of secrecy the common routine of business, is an abomination in the eyes of every intelligent man, and every friend to his country.” - Patrick Henry
Without transparency, there cannot be certainty. Uncertainty breeds misinformation. Misinformation often leads to distrust. For a government to truly function “of the people, by the people and for the people,” the people must be aware of what it is doing. Government transparency is a fundamental ingredient for liberty.
In a world where most people have access to nearly limitless information in the palm of their hand, what does transparency mean? So much has changed in the way we deliver and consume information in just the last couple decades. Can a governing body, that has functioned much the same way for the last 100 years, still be considered “transparent” in today’s environment?
“It will be of little avail to the people that the laws are made by men of their own choice if the laws be so voluminous that they cannot be read, or so incoherent that they cannot be understood.” ? James Madison
In tandem with the exponential growth of the Information Age has come our ability to access those in power. Facebook, Twitter, blogs, podcasts, YouTube ... never in our history have regular people had so much access to the formerly inaccessible seats of power. You can write an online review of your terrible experience with a product and receive a response almost immediately to correct the issue. We have access to politicians/radio hosts to make our opinions heard. Why then, are we relegated to old outdated standards when it comes to our local government? That government, which affects us most directly, seems to also be the most inaccessible to us.
I’m not asking you to form an opinion on the Gateway Project, any individual, board or council. I’m simply asking you to consider if you personally felt the process was transparent. Do you feel like you have access to your representatives? Could those things be done better? Do you feel like you have enough information and access to hold them accountable, give them proper credit, or to just form a proper opinion?
Before the next big project comes up, we should ask ourselves if our local government agencies meet modern standards of transparency and accessibility?
By Danny Lundy | Libertarian Party of Morgan County | Published Dec 13, 2017 in The Mooresville-Decatur Times