ZACHARY: State must take up wage increase

DomeLight by Jim Zachary 


Consensus building. 

Reaching across the aisle. 



Mutual respect. 


All of these, the lost arts of politics. 

When it comes to politics and governing, we are broken.

Our political landscape is more polarized than ever and conservatives and progressives have little in common and little interest in finding consensus. 

There seems to be nothing which the right and the left can agree on or work together on, and that means nothing gets done. 

Nevertheless, transparency — the public right to know — ought to be something everyone can agree on regardless of party affiliation.

Unbelievably, we have even found ways to be partisan about government transparency. 

Conservatives want to reveal the secrets of liberals and liberals want to expose the actions of conservatives. 

The right to know is not liberal, conservative, Republican, Democrat, independent or Libertarian.

But it always seems the minority party is the champion of transparency until it becomes the majority party.

All politicians stump pledging to be transparent and open, until they are in office, and have something they want to hide.

Transparency is essential in local, state and federal government and must transcend parties and political ideologies.

Essentially, there are no checks and balances when officials broker deals behind closed doors and conceal documents that contain important information that the public has the right, and often the need, to know.

Whether it is property taxes, sales taxes, business taxes, state-shared dollars or federal grants, loans and funding, government is 100% taxpayer funded and the public always has the right to know how its money is being spent.

At the local level, decisions being made, dollars being doled out and records being kept by city hall, the county commission, the board of education or the utility district belong to all of us. 

Elected officials should embrace open government and champion the public’s right to know, instead of trying to find ways to get around it.

Jim Zachary is the editor of The Valdosta Daily Times, CNHI’s director of newsroom training and development and president emeritus of the Georgia First Amendment Foundation.

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