COMMENTARY: Information key to community involvement
And now you know.
Or, at least you will in a few minutes.
During the recent campaign for the District 3 seat on the Granite County Commissioners a question was asked at the Candidate Forum hosted by the Drummond Kiwanis Club.
“Why can’t you publish the agenda in the paper like you use to?”
That question was asked of sitting Commissioner Bart Bonney, who lost his seat to Charles Hinkle when the votes were tallied Nov. 6.
The answer appeared simple, with Bonny responding that the commission didn’t set the agenda until Thursday, which is typically a full day after the Philipsburg Mail has gone to press. Despite the fact that the agenda is currently posted on the Flint Creek Courier and in local post offices each week, some folks still wanted to see it in the paper.
But does it have to be?
This week, likely because of the Thanksgiving holiday, a full agenda was emailed to the Flint Creek Courier and four other addresses on Wednesday (Nov. 21) just after noon. If the Philipsburg Mail were to hold a spot for it each week, they could easily insert an image of the agenda and make their deadline for a Thursday publication.
Why is this important?
Whenever the constituency of a legislative group like the Granite County Commissioners is informed, the faith and trust in said group always goes up. It empowers the voters to come out and engage the commission on issues that they may have information or special expertise. And in turn it allows the commission to utilize the talents, gifts and experience of their fellow citizens in conducting the business of the county.
Beside all that, it’s just being the right thing to do.
In the last year there have been allegations of impropriety against the Granite County Commission, not the least of which are the charges brought by the Montana State Attorney General’s Office against District 1 Commissioner Scott Adler. Adler will face misdemeanor charges of Official Misconduct and Theft by Embezzlement Jan. 28, 2019 for allegedly paving his driveway using county resources, machinery and personnel.
If for no other reason, releasing these agendas earlier to make printed and online editions gives everyone the appearance of doing right by the people.
While I can’t speak for other media outlets, I can tell you that the Flint Creek Courier is willing to run ALL of the agendas for local government, school and business meetings. We run them “as is” with no changes to the document as long as we receive them in either Word of PDF formats. And we run them as a public service at no charge.
And if these same groups want to mail their minutes, we’ll run those as well – again at no charge. Just email them to email@example.com as an attachment.
Encourage your local organizations or government to take advantage of sharing what it does and how it does it with the people they represent. Because when everyone knows, accountability grows.
And now you know…