City meetings in Lake City are, in many ways, an exercise in local government transparency.
While we would be eager to say that the citizens of Lake City are the beneficiaries of this kind of openness, the sad part is there are virtually no citizens there to experience it or benefit from it.
Lake City’s elected official do not hide from citizens and run behind closed doors to discuss the people’s business in executive session every time they meet.
But then again, they don’t have to run and hide to get way from the people they serve, because the citizens are not at their public meetings to begin with.
At least they weren’t this week.
Nevertheless, city leaders give detailed reports on government finances, public facilities and public safety.
The police department gives the details about crime in the city and in the interest of true accountability to taxpayers, even gives details on the miles driven by officers over the course of the month.
Citizens have every right to know how every dime of their money is being spent.
They have a right to know how safe their city is or is not.
They have every right to know everything about their own city government.
In Lake City, it seems, not only do they have the right to know, they have the means to know, just by showing up at city meetings.
It is disconcerting that too many elected officials in Clayton County and in other cities in the county seem to think they must hide the public’s business from them.
We will continue to fight this battle on the behalf of the citizens of Clayton County and each of its cities.
We will also sing the praises of those elected officials who get it right and who understand that local government belongs to the governed not the governing.
Government transparency is part and parcel of freedom.
We challenge other elected official to take “Executive Session,” off your regular meeting agendas and to only use that privilege under very limited circumstances when deemed absolutely necessary.
Lake City only has executive sessions on very limited occasions.
That is the way it should be.
We have also seen a spirit of openness in Lovejoy and Jonesboro.
We hope things are moving in the right direction in Forest Park.
Things may have gotten a bit better in Morrow, but they still have a ways to go.
We’ll try to keep a more watchful eye on Riverdale and College Park.
Now, it is time for the Clayton County Commission and the Clayton County Board of Education to get on board and stop these regular, standing executive sessions.
Citizens deserve better.
And, once again, we remind officials and citizens alike there is no provision in state law that requires local officials to go into executive session to discuss personnel issues, land acquisition or litigation.
They choose to.
— Editor Jim Zachary