Public officials more skilled at hiding than transparency

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By Meaghan Downs

Don’t ask me to make you look good.
That question has fallen from the mouths of many well-meaning public officials and municipal employees I’ve interacted with since coming to work and report in Lawrenceburg.  
Unfortunately for them, making public officials look good is not in my job description.
Not that making them look bad is. But I suppose in certain circles, that’s debatable.
I sit with a notebook in a public room as the representatives of our city and county speak. Simple as that.
I’m not peeping into your window.
I’m not waking you up while you’re in your pajamas, exposed to harsh light of my camera’s flash.
Sure, we can quarrel over whether or not you can trust me as a translator of your words. Whether or not my role is one of observer or instigator.
Let’s make this irrefutably clear: I understand my sense of journalistic ethics and my commitment to accuracy. That’s not the point.
If you sit in the fiscal court chambers, city hall, public library meeting room or at the board of education conference room, your choice to attach yourself to a city or county office is just that — a choice.
No one dragged you kicking and screaming to run for office.
If someone did, perhaps you need to re-evaluate other life choices.  
Some say information is power, and we hear various regurgitations of that same phrase so many times that often we forget how true it is.
In turn, ignorance is the most destructive force. It allows people to remain in poverty, in fear, and in dread of what tomorrow will bring.
I doubt most public officials want to keep their electorate in the dark.
But the dark is comfortable, and comforting.  It’s as easy as refusing to go on record, asking to remain anonymous for no legitimate reason other than fear of having a name attached to an action.  
This year, The Anderson News is publishing an election special section on Oct. 31. Inside, candidates for city council and the board of education answer several questions, such as:
• What budget items they believe require more/less funding
• Whether the city of Lawrenceburg is business friendly, and why
• Whether the board of education should set aside funding to buy textbooks as opposed to instituting the instructional fee at the high school.
These are important questions. Questions that deserve thoughtful and specific answers for our readers.
In light of the upcoming elections in November, I’m here to remind both incumbents and those hoping to be elected to their respective offices that they’ve made the voluntary choice to serve.
You’ve made the choice to be a public (emphasis on public) servant of the people.
Now act like one.

Don’t forget — send in those Halloween photos! E-mail high-quality digital photos to mdowns@theandersonews.com. Please identified those pictured and give a brief description of what’s occurring in the photo.