Transition team lets sunshine into process
The concept of a truly open government as a solution to the political ills and perceptions facing Louisiana gets a boost today. The Shreveport mayor’s transition team announced a reversal in working under a veil of anonymity and some secrecy. They announced they will abide by general practices of being considered a public body in an admission of uncertainty about whether they are public body.
The edict in public meeting and public records law presses public bodies to apply it liberally. Public bodies and those doing public work ought to find ways to remain open rather than find ways to stay closed or circumvent inspection. If loopholes can be found, exploiting them in favor of secrecy does more harm than good.
Today, that spirit of the law takes hold and is a guide for the transition team. Taking a lead role in government work - no matter how you set yourself up - co-joins you with generally accepted guidelines for public work. Circumvention is not advised or accepted. Their willingness to reconsider is a true sign of progress and a sign of the new administration’s flexibility in decision-making. Bodies charged with a specific governmental function by an official such as the mayor should expect to remain open to scrutiny and find ways to remain open from here on out. How they operate is as important as what they do. The ends do not justify the means. Those who serve the public business and influence use of taxpayer dollars work under the auspicious nature of the word defining the assignment: “public.”
It is likely this openness will reveal a well-considered approach and process. This also has the potential of being seen as a positive move. Many high-minded and experienced people willing to support and serve will be known. The Times' intent in advocating and seeing it happen is not a “gotcha” moment. The point of process in remaining open to inspection is a point government in Louisiana has resisted far too long.
Standing out as an example by being forthcoming with information and access normally afforded to the public is a posture that can only serve Shreveport Mayor Glover. As he makes difficult decisions, the tendency of previous state and local entities to keep doors closed has left a stink wafting like a cloud over new ideas. Now, we only hope this promise to open is realized and becomes the new standard. We pray it is not an expedient ploy to divert attention for the moment.
In Mayor Glover’s quest to make Shreveport the next great city, being a great example in government opens the door to new perceptions about our city.
Today’s action will do much to erase concerns about whether “new” ways of doing business with the city are going to be inclusive of all of Shreveport.
By Alan English, executive editor, email@example.com