The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

Opinion

April 27, 2014

In praise of sunshine

— As a news gathering agency we are entrusted with supporting the state’s open meetings, or “sunshine law.”

It is our job to question closed meetings and records and board members doing business out of regular sessions. We believe government works best with public oversight. We believe that all steps that boards make in the decision-making process that involves the expenditure of public monies should be open to the public.

So imagine our surprise and delight when three members of a local governing body stepped up last month and took measures to make more of their inner workings public record.

We applaud Limestone County Water and Sewer Authority board members Ty Smith’s and Johnny Hatchett’s successful motions to include billing statements from all vendors as part of the monthly meetings packet released to the media and public.

Further, we would salute board Chairman Jim Moffatt for voicing his support to the measure. Mr. Moffatt was named the Greater Limestone County Chamber of Commerce Citizen of the Year in recent days. His support of making vendor billing records part of the public record is but one way in which he shows his good citizenship.

It has been our observance that too often board members serve for the prestige it lends their names. After all, these are not high-paying jobs. Some members — not all — are too often what one might call “rubber stamp” members. They approve whatever recommendations that come before them from management and do not study the ramifications of the measure upon which they are voting.

When we see board members such as Mr. Smith, Mr. Hatchett and Mr. Moffatt and the board members who voted to make this open records measure public policy, it is not only a ray of sunshine, it is a breath of fresh air.

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