Wednesday, February 20, 2019


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Service not Serve Us

            The public has a right to know the business of their local government and officials have an obligation to keep them informed.

            It has been mentioned here before that local, elected officials have a responsibility to know their duties, limits, and the legal ins-and-outs of their positions in order to govern the municipality.

            The solicitor is not elected by the people, he is hired by the officials and is there to provide legal guidance to those officials, not manage or govern the municipality. 

            Contrary to what most people believe, the solicitor represents the municipal officials – not the people who elected them.

            There is much going on in our "Four-County-Corner of the Commonwealth" and keeping the public abreast about local government affairs that affect them is a daunting task.  But, for local officials it is your responsibility to keep the people informed.

            There are exceptions – understandably so.  When done within the limits of the law, there is no problem.

            Transparency is key, but it's only a word, and while used openly during   elections the meaning fades when officials find that sharing specific information could be embarrassing to them – even if the public has the right to know.

            That's especially true if you were one of the decision-makers who helped create the issue you're trying to hide from the public. 

            Chastising elected officials who try to be open, honest, and transparent is not a good idea – especially if those condemning the officials were responsible for the gaffe to begin with. 

            A safety issue in a public service structure that's been pubic knowledge for nearly a year is, well, already public knowledge.

            Address the issue, then try and figure out why it wasn't a safety issue last year.

            Hindsight is 20-20.  If you're having budget problems this early in the year your planning last year wasn't so hot.

            Optimism, promises, and good-deeds don't pay the municipality's bills – taxpayer's do.  Water over the dam for now, but hopefully lessons have been learned.

            A word to local elected officials – you don't know it all. 

            Seeking public input, sharing information, and seeking other opinions openly is the most powerful way to serve the people (remember them) and the community when you're an elected official.

            Knowing how the people feel about specific issues only happens when they know what the issues are.  It's especially bad when the people know what the issues are and officials think that they're keeping them in the dark.

            The satisfaction that comes from serving the public isn't in how many fights with your colleagues and neighbors you won, but how many never occurred because everyone worked together for common, community goals.  

            You were elected to serve the people of your municipality – not reign over them.

            It's service – not serve us.





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