If transparency is not demanded is it really needed?

I live in a small town, as I have mentioned before. Like most cities and towns around the country, budgets are tight and public employees
are facing the crisis as hard, if not harder, than the private sector.
Now, stay with me for a second as I am looking to make a point beyond
the back-room politics that are taking place in one small town.

  • The teachers in town have not had a contract in two years, nor a raise. The lack of contract is a big issue, the lack of raises in this
    economy is not.
  • To save the town money the teachers switched from one health insurance to another, saving the town approximately $700,000.
  • The Superintendent is one of the highest paid in the state of Massachusetts. He, and now many of the Principals working for him, were
    just given raises by the School Committee.
  • The School Committee will only give the teachers a contract with a four year of 0% raises.
  • The School Committee and the Teachers are using a mediator in their attempt to reach a contract. When asked about the school budget, the
    negotiator was informed that all questions must be received one week
    prior to the next meeting and only those questions will be discussed.

While I am personally annoyed by the petty politics in Winthrop, Massachusetts, and I feel that ethical lines are being crossed, lets
step back for a second. Voters, town citizens, are not up in arms
shouting to learn more, to get to the bottom of issues. Transparency,
and other government 2.0 benefits, are not on the average citizen’s
mind. When citizens and local governments are not seeking change is
there any problem afterall?

What do you think? Is transparency really needed when no one is asking for it?


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Peter Sperry

Actually, transparency and open government wre probably needed most when they are valued least. Yes, most residents in the community will tend to ignore them, but usually there will be at least a few who will pay closer attention and notify their neighbors when there is a serious problem.

Waiting for the average citizen to express concern about government before seeking to identify and correct problems is like waiting for a tumor to noticable as a bulge under the skin before consulting a doctor. Periodic screening is a good idea for health care and government, even if it only provides peace of mind your physical and political bodies are healthy.

John Moore

Great response, Peter. I agree with you but felt this was an issue worth sharing, worth hearing people’s opinions on. I’ll be making noise and seeking to bring openness to the local government level. Will be a fun process. -John