It is my observation that an informed public is a happy public. Albeit there are times we receive information that does not make us happy, for example word that taxes are to be raised.
The quick way to fuel unhappiness on the part of the tax-paying public is to give the impression of secret deals or that decisions affecting the taxpayers are being made out of public view. In Georgia, we have a state law known as the Open Meetings Act which requires all government meetings, including committees and work sessions, to be open and accessible to the public.
Since the general public cannot attend every government meeting, keeping the media in the loop regarding when such meetings are held is vital. In conversations I have across our state, often the issue of trust in government leaders is a topic. Most often, people ask questions related to government decisions where there is an impression of trickery or corruption on the part of the elected official. This impression can be cleared with a more transparent process of government discussions and decisions being made in the full daylight of public awareness.
With video cameras and other recording devices, public meetings can be easily recorded and shared with others. This technology is apparently making some people in elective office somewhat nervous to think that in every work session and in every gathering of publicly elected officials, there is the possibility of their actions being broadcast. Remember the television program with the tag line, “Smile, you are on candid camera.” That show was amusing and the public laughed at the antics of unsuspecting people being caught on camera reacting to certain sets of circumstances.
It is different and no laughing matter when politicians seek to find ways to avoid having their opinions known on matters affecting the lifestyle of the public they are elected to serve.
A has caused questions to be raised as to how the meeting was posted for the public and press to know about the meeting. City Administrator Jim Osborne and Mayor Wilbanks have said they followed the Open Meetings Act by posting notice in the legal organ classified section and having the meeting notice on the bulletin board at City Hall.
This reality notwithstanding, there was no posting of the information on the city website until after the meeting, and no mention of this meeting was sent to any other media sources, not even the newsroom of the legal media organ, the Gwinnett Daily Post.
Was this an oversight? Was it just overlooked with all the other daily business of the City of Dacula’s staff? A notice about bus service made it on the web site, but not the notice of a meeting where tax increases would be discussed. From where I stand, that raises more questions than answers about keeping the public informed.