OUR OPINION: Transparency a requirement for democracy

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This week the Texas Supreme Court upheld the state’s Open Meetings Law, ruling against a group of city council members who argued that limiting their discussion of public business to open meetings violated their own rights to free speech.

It was an important ruling, because, unlike Tennessee, Texas law holds criminal penalties for those who violate Open Meetings Law.

“Transparency is furthered by allowing the public to have access to government decision making,” the court said. In other words, in a democracy, voters need to be in on the discussion and debate
over the issues at hand so they can make an informed choice at the polls later.

Some people like to assume that government officials are all looking out for the best interest of the people they serve. That’s not always so.

Here’s an example: Just this week, it was revealed that the Upper Cumberland Human Resource Agency, which serves 14 counties including Cumberland, wasted $2 million in taxpayer money, including nearly $60,000 alone on a lavish trip to Washington, D.C.

Tennessee Comptroller Justin P. Wilson said. “When taxpayers see their money being spent for the purposes outlined in this audit, it erodes their faith in government.”

Democracy requires transparency and attention to work.