Why open government matters –VDT

Maybe the Lowndes County Commission should have read these quotes before it approved that unbudgeted no-bid not-discussed-in-the-retreat second water treatment system purchase.

Update 17 October 2014: Fix date of editorial. -jsq

VDT editorial 12 April August 2014, Why open government matters,

“The same prudence, which, in private life, would forbid our paying our money for unexplained projects, forbids it in the disposition of public moneys.” — Thomas Jefferson.

The same year of 1808 he wrote that to Shelton Gilliam, President Jefferson, in his last State of the Union address, not only personally summarized the government’s accounts and promised “a correct statement” of “accounts of the receipts and expenditures”: he also asked the Congress and the people what to do with any accumulation of surpluses, well in advance of actually needing to decide.

The VDT includes many more quotes from other well-known figures, and concludes:

The fundamental and underlying principle of our form of government is that government belongs to the governed and not to the governing.

Open government is good government — or at least it is better government.

Local government can only be “of, by and for the people,” when it is before the people and not hidden behind the closed doors of an executive session or in concealed documents.

That’s why we care about open government.

And, more importantly, that is why you should care about open government and why elected officials should be committed to doing all the people’s business out in the open.

Oh, and yes, please subscribe to the VDT. It’s the newspaper of record around here and it frequently carries important stories and editorials.

And LAKE is happy to accept donations to continue investigating things the VDT can’t cover, often before anybody else covers it.

After all, the other side of open government is the ability of the people to speak up and the press to report.

This is true Liberty when free born men
Having to advise the public may speak free,
Which he who can, and will, deserv’s high praise,
Who neither can nor will, may hold his peace;
What can be juster in a State then this?
Euripedes, The Suppliants 437-440, quoted by John Milton in his Areopagitica, For the Liberty of unlicenc’d Printing, to the Parlament of England, 1644