Monday, December 15, 2014

Since when is the will of the people a "wish list" for consideration by legislators?

Around this time of year, people start talking about
their wish list for the legislative session beginning in mid January.

If the will of the people is a list at all,
it is a to do list.
A list of the things we expect them to do.

The reason the "to do" list* never gets done, is because it isn't a "to do" list at all. It's a "wish" list.

*the people's to do list;
  • transparent accountability to meaningful standards of conduct and competence in politics and public service.
  • transparency in open meetings and public records, limited only by the law
  • meaningful participation by stake and interest holders, in decision making that affects their interests.
Masters don't wish their servants would do the things they are expected to do.

The terms of public service are the prerogative of the public, not of public servants.

Fundamental among those terms; public servants are accountable to the public, and to meaningful standards of conduct and competence, at least for the eight measly hours a day that we have to "trust" them with the control over our power and our resources.

It is up to the people to decide which records will or will not be ethically redacted before they are produced.

It is up to the people to decide when their servants need to meet in secret, and what it is we will allow them to decide in secret from our oversight.

When it comes to protecting the public interests, trust in human nature in a temptation rich environment runs a far, far distant second to transparent accountability to high standards of conduct and competence.  At the risk of putting too fine a point on it; it is bone crushingly, mind numbingly naive to believe you can let people wield power and spend resources in secret, and that your interests are actually protected by your "trust" that they will not yield to the nearly irresistible temptations in which they are awash.

Accountability by due process of complaints; free of undue influence and powerful enough to hold superintendents and school board members accountable, even against their will. 

That is what is going to protect you from paying $800 for chairs for board members to sit in twice a month, ever again.

photo Mark Bralley

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