Trans­parency for em­ploy­ees too

The Covington News - - Front page -

Some­one said to me re­cently that I was too crit­i­cal of New­ton County gov­ern­ment. Read­ing back over my col­umns, I can see how a quick read might leave that im­pres­sion.

The folks you get when you call on the phone, work the front desks. Those who la­bor out of sight usu­ally only see us when there is a prob­lem. Both are more help­ful and cour­te­ous than we of­ten de­serve. So, how does that square with my com­ments about the con­tin­u­ing fail­ure of our lo­cal gov­ern­ment to be trans­par­ent, etc.?

The em­ploy­ees of New­ton County, in­clud­ing some depart­ment man­agers, have the same prob­lems as the rest of us with re­gard to trans­parency of gov­ern­ment. They need more in­for­ma­tion them­selves and want to make more in­for­ma­tion avail­able to New­ton County cit­i­zens. But, they are stymied by the cur­rent tech­nol­ogy choke point.

They also have no real voice in shap­ing an­swers to the fi­nal bud­get since there are “ pro­fes­sion­als” who will pre­pare and present black box op­tions to the Board of Com­mis­sion­ers. Those pro­pos­als may serve the needs of New­ton County, but it isn’t by a trans­par­ent process.

At a min­i­mum a trans­par­ent process would in­clude pub­lic post­ing of detailed pro­posed bud­gets from de­part­ments with sup­port­ing doc­u­men­ta­tion, with tracking of how those pro­pos­als were used to cre­ate the “bud­gets” that are now pre­sented as “take it or leave it” op­tions.

I have a great deal of faith in the most of the worker bees and their man­agers of New­ton County gov­ern­ment. They (and we) de­serve the in­for­ma­tion trans­parency and tech­nol­ogy needed to do their jobs. But they aren’t go­ing to get it un­less we in­sist upon it.

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