Saturday, March 19, 2016
If a tree falls in the forest..
This is Sunshine Week, a time set aside to celebrate and promote open government. Increasingly irrelevant newspapers also use the event for self-promotion, wasting precious space better used for serious reporting.
Lifting the veil on government operations helps citizens understand how things work, and decisions are made. The saying “sunshine is the best disinfectant” is often used to tout the benefits of transparency.
In Goochland, check registers for both county government and the schools have been on line for a few years. Most meetings are live streamed and recorded for future reference. Agendas, packets, minutes and related information are available on the county website http://goochlandva.us/ for all to review. Documents including proposed, current, and past county budgets; the current comprehensive land use plan; and real estate information is also online. For those unable or unwilling to use the internet, most information is available in hard copy either at the Goochland Branch Library or administration building.
Does any of this matter if no one pays attention?
We have instant access to more information that at any time in history, but more people know details about the daily lives of Armenian celebrities than how their government operates. Too many people cast votes based on the recommendation of a hysterical website or Facebook page instead of doing their own investigation into the policies and beliefs of a given candidate.
Undoubtedly, more people, especially those born since America’s bicentennial, can name the teams involved in this week’s basketball tournaments but are clueless as to the identity of their senator, congressman, or heaven forbid, local supervisor. An indifferent citizenry creates a vacuum that invites mischief.
Locally, we have seen this in newcomers to the county who complained about “new” planned roads that have been “on the drawing board” for at least a decade. Long term county residents recently expressed surprise that the Tuckahoe Creek Service District extends north to the Hanover line. Didn’t they notice the turquoise pipes being put into the ground along Ashland Road about a decade ago?
If a tree falls in the forest and no one hears, does it make a sound? If no one pays attention to transparent government, is is really open? Bask in the sunshine of open government, ask questions, and be an informed citizen.