03/13/13 — Same page: That's right. It is not the county attorney.

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Same page: That's right. It is not the county attorney.

Stop the presses. We finally agree with something the Wayne County commissioners said -- well, sort of.

Borden Parker is not only qualified to be county attorney, but we trust his judgment to act in a manner that is above board and honest.

In fact, we feel confident that he would advise the county commissioners not to act in a manner that violates the First Amendment or the Open Meetings Law. We also feel that he would say something -- if he knew -- if the county commissioners were speaking out of turn or having gatherings when they should not be.

But you can tell someone to do something, advise them against doing it. But if you are their employee, that is the end of the story.

You can advise all the horses you want, but you cannot make them drink.

Also, Borden Parker is a competent and intelligent man. He does not need to read a prepared statement in front of a camera. He is perfectly capable of answering questions and explaining -- or denying -- that anything improper was said in the commission meetings.

He has never in the years he has dealt with this newspaper ever resorted to a prepared statement read in a commission meeting.

The commissioners did discuss inappropriate topics in a commission meeting.

They did spend nearly four hours in closed session during a commission meeting, discussing problems with the payroll system, released four sentences as the minutes of that discussion, and then came out and voted without any open discussion.

This is not about Borden Parker. It is about his bosses.

The same is true for Lee Smith. He is the county manager who is employed by the county commission. He cannot speak out with impunity if there is pressure being applied to him -- or if policy changes have been arranged behind the scene and then denied in public.

And by the way, you saw today what happens when you give county government tens of thousands of dollars to create its own television channel.

You get what they want you to see, with scripted interviews they pre-arrange and direct themselves.

Chairman Steve Keen has no problem doing that type of interview.

Of course not, he employs the questioner.

Don't believe us? Watch the interview for yourself.

There is no better argument for doing everything we can to maintain open records and a free press than a county commission that refuses to answers questions face to face, to explain its actions and decisions in an open and upfront manner and that relies on a Facebook page, email and digital public relations to pass along pabulum that is nothing short of propaganda.

We should expect and demand more.

Published in Editorials on March 13, 2013 10:45 AM