Open Government Task Force article

Ben Lanka of the Journal Gazette covered the OGTF meeting Monday night at the library.  In all fairness to Mr. Lanka, he did write a preview about the meeting in Monday’s paper.  However, in covering the event in Tuesday’s paper, no mention was made of anything discussed at the meeting except for the issue of Mayor Tom Henry’s movement of Code Enforcement back into the city’s Community Development Department from the Police Department.  City Council members felt the idea should have been discussed at some level before any action was taken – and at the least they should have been alerted to the change instead of reading about it in the paper.  After the first Councilman mentioned it, Lanka stepped outside with Councilmen Tom Smith and Glyn Hines to discuss it further and obtain quotes for his article.  Lanka should have been there to cover the meeting’s actual purpose, but instead the article morphed into a controversy with a meeting wrapped around it.  Almost as an afterthought, he mentioned in his article that the comments were made at the meeting:

The comments were made Monday at a forum on making government more accessible.Â

There was excellent discussion and many ideas exchanged between not only citizens but city and county officials as well.  Each person, whether elected official or average citizen, was given due and equal consideration.  The spirit of cooperation and willingness to work together was for the most part enlightening.  Mr. Lanka left the meeting early, probably for a press deadline.  Leaving early, he missed the most important part of the meeting.  Before adjourning, the discussion turned to concerns about not letting the suggestions gathered die a quiet, unexplored and put-on-a-shelf-and-forgotten death.  Pledges were made from several officials that the ideas discussed were important and would be pursued.  It was the consideration and pledges made that were the biggest and most important news of the evening.  That is what needed to be reported.  That is what will stimulate other citizens to become more involved with government and initiatives like this.  But controversy is what sells newspapers - not encouraging citizens to engage and interact with their government.


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