The Greater Lowndes Planning Commission meets tonight at 5:30PM, but there’s no agenda posted anywhere online. At the same meeting at which he asserted “we have broadband”, and “transparency is not a problem” County Chairman Bill Slaughter said the county doesn’t publish agendas or minutes for the Planning Commission because of “the expense”.
“When officials act like
they have something to hide,
they often do”
I suppose I don’t know much about this Internet stuff, so maybe somebody can explain it to me: what’s the big expense in publishing the GLPC agendas and minutes the same way the county publishes its own agendas and minutes? Yet if you search for the Planning Commission on the county’s website, all you find is its name in a list of Boards, Agencies & Commissions; tonight’s meeting is not even listed in the county’s online calendar.
For that matter, what would be the big expense in posting the entire agenda packets, like for example Nash County, NC or Augusta-Richmond County or Glynn County, which also publishes videos of its two (2) planning commissions. Our own two local Valdosta and Lowndes County Boards of Education often post board packet items along with their agendas.
For that matter, the City of Valdosta puts agendas and minutes online for the Valdosta-Lowndes County Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBOA), which, as Gretchen pointed out at last month’s County Commission meeting, is the other board that used to be handled by the Southern Georgia Regional Commission (SGRC). The City of Valdosta does have a web page for GLPC and does list tonight’s meeting in the city’s online calendar:
Greater Lowndes Planning Commission
Date: 1/27/2014 5:30 PM
Location: South Health District Administrative Office
325 W Savannah Avenue
Valdosta, Georgia 31601
Yet for the GLPC minutes, which are handled by Lowndes County, you have to file an open records request, and three days later you get those minutes on paper, even though they are composed electronically, not on a typewriter. And to get an agenda, apparently now you have to show up at the GLPC meeting, which means you don’t know in advance whether you need to.
Why can the city of Valdosta, the boards of education, and numerous other counties do what Lowndes County seems to find too expensive? What is this great expense, anyway?
What about the expense of reputation for the county? As the VDT said in an editorial 3 March 2012:
When the media requests records, it is doing so on behalf of the public. Taxpayers have the right to know how their money is being spent by officials elected to represent them. When officials are reluctant to comply with requests, it raises legitimate concerns.
There should be no transaction or record that an official should be concerned about being made public….
When officials act like they have something to hide, they often do, and when they begin to consider the government’s business as their personal business, it’s time for the public to become concerned.