vs Convenient Truths
Some strange new truths have arisen of late in local town
business that echo similar developments on a national basis.
Namely, elected officials have started mistaking their governing
administrative duties as being chiefly business-like in nature…
not so much for private gain, from what we can tell, as for
an executive-like disregard for the transparency their governing
roles demand in a true democracy.
In Shandaken, Supervisor Bob Cross Jr. withheld news about a
contracted business entity’s failure to comply with a
municipal contract from his fellow elected town board because,
he said, he didn’t want anything leaked to the press that
might embarrass the company in question. In Olive, a month-long
Florida vacation on the part of the town supervisor has basically
resulted in the town ceasing to do business, at least in any
public fashion. Forget it if you’re a member of the public
seeking information about pending decisions that will effect
the town’s future, from possible cell phone access to
a potential sewer system for Boiceville. Or if you’re
a member of the press seeking to serve as proxy for that public.
Sure, we’ve had years of talk now about how much better
government could run if handled like a business. But much of
that came before the current Bush administration took over in
Washington, with their various attempts to privatize decision-making,
from the running of wars to energy policy, mostly with disastrous
results. Or the release of the Republican Party playbook in
recent years, which urged skepticism of all the media said…
and even manipulation of public opinion via government-sponsored
press releases disguised as news.
Go after every bit of news one doesn’t like as being obstructionist,
went the plan. Destroy the messenger, even if the role of the
Fourth Estate, as the media has been called since the French
Revolution, is more like that of a referee than a balancer.
Avoid the sunshine laws, the idea of open government, using
the excuse that they inevitably make us less safe.
Frankly, we’re tired of such arguments being used in local
politics, where questions of authority and embarrassment and
who’s got most power are irrelevant. Moreover, we’ve
had enough of elected officials declaring themselves decision-makers
and deciders, especially when their decisions tend to side with
business owners over those they’re supposed to be governing.
Remember… under our system, an elected official represents
all the people he governs, and not just those who actually pulled
the lever for him or her. Any attempt to avoid facing the public,
either directly or via we in the press, basically amounts to
malfeasance… an ignoring of one’s official duties.
Furthermore, these decisions we’re allowed these representatives
to decide on are not tests of their personal will, or sense
of individual achievement, but matters that determine our collective
destiny, from war down to the flushing of a toilet.
Who are our elected officials anyway if not our proxies, our
servants? It’s time to return to the eternal truths of
democracy, and turn our backs from the convenient “truths”
of business, where those who benefit are not necessarily all.
Have a restful month of March… we’ll see you next
on the 29th.