Editorial: Consequences awaiting the silent

Mar. 19, 2014 @ 11:16 PM

Government offices in the Tri-County may soon be asking for more scrutiny than ever before.

To avoid that happening, we encourage the elected board officials for our respective schools, municipalities and counties to talk with state legislators today and assure them they want laws accompanying the most transparent government possible.

If they do not, and should they back any trend toward putting more government business out of the public’s eye, they will lose the trust of the very people who elected them. And politicians without trust soon become known as “ex-” and “former.”

It is difficult to understand how our elected representatives can fail to see this simple equation. For actions, there are reactions — and often consequences.

We’re celebrating Sunshine Week through Saturday. It is worth noting the occasion coincides with the March 16 birthday of James Madison, our fourth president. Madison was a Founding Father and stood among those who had keen insight into our sustainability.

Two hundred years later, his ideas still command how we should be governed, how our elected officials should operate and who is ultimately in charge: the people.

We once had a weak Congress. Madison brought the ideas of change we still cling to today. Checks and balances gave no branch of government more power over another.

Madison, who helped pen the U.S. Constitution, wrote “consent of the governed” requires the people be able to “arm themselves with the power which knowledge gives.”

When our government leaders seek to operate out of view or conduct the business of the people where only a few will see, we have lost our way. Disaster is the next stop.

How can we trust what we don’t know? We will lose confidence in the very people in whom we need to have the most faith.

Our benchmarks of integrity will diminish. And if the train leaves that station, it won’t be coming back.

All information of public record needs to find the largest audience, through printed notices, electronic notices and old-fashioned word of mouth. The public has a right to know, and elected leaders should be doing all they can to help us.