As a former newspaper reporter who covered a variety of beats such as law enforcement, the courts, government, education and social issues, obtaining accurate information was an essential part of my job.
Being a reporter opened many “doors” on my beat. But as a citizen, these doors tend to be shut – tightly. It doesn’t have to be this way, and a good government demands open doors.
Municipalities should be as transparent as possible to its constituencies. This, though, is only half of what is needed. Elected officials need to garner opinions of their taxpayers before laws are set. This means going beyond posting agendas or encouraging residents to attend meetings.
There should be a clear line of communication with citizens, which is one of the goals of KingstonCitizens.org. For example, before an agenda item is discussed in caucus, feedback from citizens – not special interest groups, developers, friends of lawmakers or other power brokers – should be sought. This “beta” testing with citizens will result in much-saved grief between taxpayers and its government.
So let’s urge our lawmakers to chat with citizens on all issues of importance. Let’s work toward clarity, transparency and mutual trust. Only good things can result.
— Arthur Zaczkiewicz