ssǝɹddns ɹou ɹɐǝɟ ɹǝɥʇıǝu plnoʍ ʎʇǝıɔos ǝǝɹɟ ʎlnɹʇ ɐ ʇɐɥʇ ƃuıʇnɔolɯnɔɹıɔ suıɐʇuoɔ ǝʇıs sıɥʇ

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Erring on the side of transparency

WARNING: The following internet post includes…well, you’ll see.

This is what I typed on May 5, 2009:

And then we’ve got twenty people running for the study commission, if and when the voters vote yes to the formation of another governmental reform brain trust. I believe we can vote for eleven.

I have followed the less than heavy publicized exploits of this current group, and I have followed the latest on their Web site. And I have to tell you, other than Walter Griffith, this group is comprised of 19 complete strangers. In all honesty, I know so very little about any of them, I fail to see how I could or would cast a vote for any of them. A commission of unknowns? Who best? Got me by the ball bearings.

With the election now behind us, the Government Study Commission members are as follows: Jim Haggerty, Walter Griffith Jr., John Adonizio, Veronica Ciaruffoli, Frank E. P. Conyngham, Jack Schumacher, Rick Morelli, Richard “Kick” Heffron, Robert “Whammer” Wanyo, Christopher “C. J.” Kersey, Charmaine Maynard.

Since that election, I have come to learn that one of the commission members is a convicted felon. A person who I voted for based completely on her strong and loyal WILK following, on ‘word of mouth’ if you will. So much for that voting criteria. Never again. And I’ve also learned that another member is a convicted serial drunk driver. Nice.

With that typed, go back to what I wrote before we chose from the longish list of unknowns: In all honesty, I know so very little about any of them, I fail to see how I could or would cast a vote for any of them. And yet, here they are, warts and convictions and all, reinventing the governmental wheel.

But I did vote for two from that elongated list. Yeah, I did. And as fate would have it, we are now dependant upon a convicted felon and a drunk driver for a better form of county government. Wonderful. And what other wonderful surprises are we in for?

Will the pederasts please step forward?

And what’s with the constant use of the nicknames in the press? Is this a professionally-minded government study commission, or is this junior high school revisited? (Quit nekkin' on me, you fem!) “Kick?” “Whammer?” Get over it.

…so vote for me, Mark “The Durango Kid” Cour. While I may not be the smartest of the bunch, I am unpredictably wild and crazy, fun at parties and a proven street fighter.

What the (mother of all curse words)?!?

And then we have this ridiculous flap, courtesy of today's Times Leader:

Home rule study transparency mulled

A debate is brewing over whether the new Home Rule Study Commission will comply with the state Sunshine Act, which requires public agencies to keep certain meetings and hearings open to the public.

Commission member Jim Haggerty, an attorney, points to a section of the state’s home rule law that says study commissions “may hold private hearings.”

Haggerty said he believes commission meetings should generally be open to the public, but he wants to reserve the right to meet in private to discuss “sensitive” matters.

“To get honest answers on certain issues, it may require private hearings. To get frank opinion on the usefulness of a row office or one of the county’s 50 agencies, for example, we may have to deliberate in private,” Haggerty said.

But commission member Walter Griffith said the commission owes it to the people to keep all deliberation open to the public so everyone understands the rationale behind the panel’s decisions. That includes topics that are “dicey” and controversial, he said.

The state Department of Community and Economic Development manual on home rule says study commissions meet the definition of an agency that must comply with the Sunshine Act, he stressed.

“The people want transparency in government,” Griffith said. “That’s what made 77 percent of the people pull the lever to study home rule, and we’re going to give them less transparency?”

Err on the side of caution, anyone? Why not go above and beyond whereas transparency is concerned? Why not?

This is disturbing in it’s similarity to the mindset of the locally elected. Then again, consider the source:

“My concern is simple: We operate under the home rule law and should not create a perception that we are bound by anything other than home rule law,” Haggerty said. “It doesn’t mean we can’t choose to honor most of the requirements of the Sunshine Act, but it shouldn’t be forced on us.”

So, much like the government it has been charged to improve, the study commission will pick and choose which sets of rules and guidelines it feels like abiding by. The letter of the Sunshine Law should not be forced upon them. Does that not sound eerily familiar to what a county commissioner might say to a probing local reporter?

So, right out of the gate, the first issue on the agenda is whether or not to create the ultimate model of transparency? Right from the get-go, they can’t decide whether or not to conduct their business like the politicians they were elected to clean up after? A commission member, the Mayor of Kingston, thinks the meetings should “generally be open to the public.” Generally. Generally, I’d say he ought to defer further public statements to the felons and the drunk drivers.

It sounds to me as if the career politician in him has spoken. And spoken very, very poorly, I might add.

So, while we’re all trying to discern which one, or how many of these study commission members, these candidates were born and raised in Manchuria, I’d say we’ve got ourselves an early frontrunner.

And I’ll say this much for Walter Griffith. Whether he’s correct or wildly incorrect with his interpretation of the way the rules may or may not apply to government study commissions, if he’s wrong, then all that he is guilty of is erring on the side of transparency. In my denuded mind, not a bad error to make.

And in that respect, his credibility as a true reformer of government has risen exponentially.

Remember what Wilkes-Barre School Board candidate Harry Haas had to say to the following prompt from your hated author:

Question: What’s your favorite color?

Answer: Transparency.

God damn right!!!

Like ‘em or not, them’s my thoughts on all of that.


Mark “The Durango Kid” Cour

*Photo: Zachary Bryce Cour. Like grandfather, like grandson.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

the study commission is b.s. just like any change would be. i would rather only have 3 politically corrupt a--holes to worry about than 9... the wool pulled over the eyes of lzuerne county cause the folks here don't want anyting differnet....