Starting this week the county is taking a positive and helpful step toward creating greater transparency as it conducts public business. Meeting audio of workskhops is going to be streamed on the net, thanks to President Mullin’s order to flip the switch on the audio-recorder and Commissioner Broomell’s push for opening up the meetings. Without Commissioner Broomell’s continued advocacy in this area, beginning back when she was campaigning, we probably wouldn’t be able to hear county workshops anytime soon.
Those workshops are some of the most important for people to monitor. That’s where the give and take discussions occur and once they’ve ironed out a solution they bring it to the formal meeting, to have the decision officially entered into the record. Of course there are times those things go off script in the main meeting, but that’s not common.
Beginning Tuesday any interested party will be able to listen in as the meetings are going to be recorded and streamed soon thereafter on the Net.
We always thought it was important to create some sort of electronic recording of those workshops, but last week’s meeting cemented that belief for us. The commissioners came out of a closed-door session with Penn National where, according to their statement, they were meeting with “a business or industrial organization to locate, expand, or remain in the state.” But as soon as the doors were again opened to the public, the discussion wasn’t about trying to get a corporation to stay, expand, or whatever, it was about reimbursing the corporation for previously agreed to expenses. Ccommissioner Broomell expressed concerns about the appropriateness of the closed door meeting to negotiate reimbursements to the casino and her concerns about the financial arrangement. It was a complicated discussion, especially for the public or members of the media that weren’t privy to the closed-door discussion, as the commissioners worked on figuring out how much of the revenue they had collected from the casino, they were going to return to the casino for infastructure cost it has inccurred. Having the public hear what was said by everyone there is helpful. As it stood there was one member of the Local Development Board and three people representing media outlets, for the late afternoon meeting.
Whatever the case, thanks to Commissioner Broomell and President Mullin, we’ll all be able to listen in. The more sunshine on public business, the better for it strengthens the quality of political decisions as what is said and done gets wider exposure with the public and not just some narrow special interest groups. At its most basic level, this allows the public to provide near real-time feedback to the elected officials, but if they had to wait for minutes their approval occurs long after the window of opportunity to comment has passed.
Someone Noticed is looking forward to having these audio tapes online and we believe this is in the best interest of the public. It’s always refreshing to hear public officials that push for open government. Thank you President Mullin and Commissioner Broomell.