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Letter to the Editor

What happened to openness?

web posted June 10, 2010
Dear Editor:
The Edgefield County Council is becoming less and less transparent in its decision-making.

One way elected bodies can legally do the citizen’s business in the shadows is by calling special meetings, then holding those meetings at times that discourage citizens from coming to listen or provide input. That’s what our County Council is now doing.

Let me explain: The Council holds its regularly scheduled meetings at 6 p.m., a reasonable time for most citizens to show up to offer input or, at the very least, monitor what the Council is doing.

So far this year, the County Council has broken that tradition by holding three meetings at times when most working people cannot attend – two of these special meetings in the mid-afternoon and one, about two weeks ago, in the late morning.

Those on Council will probably say that the special called meetings usually cover only one topic or are focused on solving one issue, and sometimes no vote is involved. That attitude keeps us all uninformed. As taxpayers, we want to hear the discussion first-hand; we want to understand the issues; we want to bring our input into the process.

At the most recent called morning meeting, final reading was given to our County’s budget. Many citizens are interested in the budget, but the time of the meeting kept them away.

I am disappointed in our elected leaders on the County Council. You can hold special meetings when the need arises without holding them at times when it is impossible for citizens to attend. Simply hold these meetings at 6 p.m., just as you do with regular meetings.

Holding meetings before 6 p.m. may seem okay, but I want to bring citizens to Council meetings, not keep them away.

I believe we need more transparency in our County Government, and it begins with the elected officials leading the way by doing the County’s business in plain sight of the people.

Holding all meetings when citizens are available to attend is another way to lift the veil of secrecy and move Edgefield County forward.

Dean Campbell
District 3 County Council candidate

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