05/07/11 — A thought: City's decision -- and comments -- point to exactly why bill is bad news

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A thought: City's decision -- and comments -- point to exactly why bill is bad news

There were more important things to say today. So we said them.

But that doesn't mean that we are going to let the Goldsboro City Council's barb at public access go unnoticed, or unanswered.

So, we decided to offer a small commentary (there will be more as this debate continues) -- something for the citizens of this community to think about as they read about their City Council's decision to support a bill to allow Internet-only notification of government business.

The first thought is simple really. Pay attention to what Mayor Pro Tem Chuck Allen said -- people do not pay attention to notices in the newspaper unless they involve real estate.

Catch the implication there?

He doesn't think you will read the notices anyway -- and since you really aren't interested in the comings and goings of the city government, why does it matter where he puts them? You won't look for them anyway. You don't really care.

Hmmmm. He would not be the first politician to not notice that more American voters are paying attention -- and that they do have an opinion on who gets what contract, who has an opportunity to bid, how much it costs and what ordinance gets changed. And they are also curious to see who is scratching whose back.

And also, if you have been paying attention, you will notice that there has been a lot of heat on the city lately. There have been more than a few people questioning some decisions -- and potential purchases. In fact, you have read some of that criticism right here -- and it has not been just from this newspaper's editorial writer. Think that perhaps someone might wish a few of those potential purchases and other decisions were not so public and not so open for comment?

There are a million reasons why keeping public notices public matters. Not the least of which is that once you allow some shortcuts, more will be taken. What's to stop the next modification?

It is just the way of politics -- and it is not the first time that a seemingly minor change might have serious consequences in the long run.

So, while the right thing to do today was to talk about our nation, we wanted to make sure we also talked about safeguarding one of this nation's most precious rights, one of the freedoms that we cherish and have vowed to protect.

Open, honest and accountable government begins with access. And that is why this debate matters -- even today.

Published in Editorials on May 7, 2011 11:29 PM