Light Must Shine on Government Meetings

We need to turn the system around to where we see the taxpaying-voting citizens as the top level and the elected office holders as being employed by the people.

Former Governor Sonny Perdue spoke to a college Republican group last week.

Blake Aued, on OnlineAthens.com (Athens Banner-Herald), quoted him about politicians making decisions: “You don’t change because you see the light; you change because you feel the heat.”

These words ring true as we see decisions made by politicians out of view of the public. I am for full disclosure and complete sunshine to be on the issues and decisions made by elected leaders at whatever level of government. Many decisions are made by the politicians before the public meetings begin. As long as I have been observing the political world, the phrases “backroom deals” or “smoke filled rooms” have been said, leaving the impression that the tax paying public is kept out of the real decisions being made affecting their tax dollars.

Freedom of the press is vital to the public being informed concerning decisions that touch every area of their life. The protection of employees and their personal issues is vital, but as the employees of government work for the people, and not for the politicians, issues related to job performance as the performance touches the lives of the citizens should be made public.

One very touchy issue in recent years causing frustration on the part of the voters is when a person is elected to office and then they believe that somehow they have been elevated to a position over the voters. We need to turn the system around to where we see the taxpaying-voting citizens as the top level and the elected office holders as being employed by the people. Most often in these days it is said we must restore the concept that elected officials work for the people and not the other way around where the elected office holder believes the citizens work for them.

I am often asked as I conduct speaking engagements across our state if I believe in term limits. The answer is yes, if you let me define what I mean by term limits. Each person who runs for an office is aware they must go back before the voters again at the end of their term should they choose to do so. The voters must learn to be informed and make sure they understand the elected official is asking to be rehired for another term of service. The voters must decide the performance of the elected lawmaker is such that they can be rehired for another term in office. The term limit should be imposed by the voter at the ballot box. I know many argue that a legislated term limit would work better. While this is true in some selected offices, we lose a lot of wisdom and experience if we believe that we should have a complete new slate of office holders in every election cycle.

From where I stand, we the people need to keep up the heat on the people we elect if they want another term of service.

Do you trust politicians when they make "backroom deals"? Tell us in comments.

Patrick T. Malone February 09, 2012 at 07:12 PM
Ray, it seems to me that the light is already shining on government meetings but the public is comfortable abdicating their responsibilities to their elected representatives and only complain when the politicians do something that impacts them adversely. While "backroom" deals were a reality in the past, current sunshine laws prevent that today. The current system is open and transparent if you get involved. It's not the current system that needs to be changed, its the current group of apathetic or lazy voters that need to change.
Ray Newman February 10, 2012 at 02:59 AM
There is nothing like having a room full of citizens watching as the lawmakers are voting. It takes more than being present at the meetings however, you are correct Patrick the voters need to be engaged and involved long before the election and continue to keep the lawmakers aware they are accountable to the voters.


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