Open government has power. It fuels democracy. When citizens know what’s going on, they can make informed choices about their community, county and country. That sounds simple and non-controversial. But open government isn’t quite like apple pie and the Flag. In concept, everybody says they love it. In practice, that love too often morphs into secrecy.
We believe secrecy wasn’t the motivating factor for the Marion County Public Safety and Law Enforcement Center Committee to call for a closed-door discussion regarding the dismissal of a committee member. The intent was to keep an embarrassing discussion out of the media for the sake of the person in question.
The more serious question is why the commitee’s status as a “subordinate group” of the county commission wasn’t explored earlier by the commissioners, the county attorney or, frankly, by this newspaper. We take our share of the blame for not pushing for clarification for a situation we recognized early on as confusing.
The AG’s opinion is a lesson for all of us, we hope. Open government is worth the risk of asking a few dumb questions at the right time. —DR