Sunday, December 13, 2009

HIDE AND SEEK. NO CHILDS GAME BUT A SERIOUS THREAT ON THE RIGHTS OF CITIZENS TO KNOW

If you were a businessman or women, and you hired people to represent you and they in turn hired some others, would you be out of line in asking to be made available to you, what the employees were being paid? Such action is necessary, considering it’s your money and supposedly they represent you.

The other day in one of the newspapers in Salt Lake, the Associated Press wrote a small article that should have caught the eye of every citizen in the State, but more so, the taxpayers of Wasatch County since it involved their legislative representative and an employee of Wasatch County.
It purported to give information on a bill that Mr. Kraig Powell has agreed to carry in the up coming session for a Wasatch County employee, Del Barney, who it seems is not a fan of public disclosure. This proposed piece of legislation, if it were to become law, which at this point is unlikely, but then who knows, would change the Government Records Access and Management Act, which is commonly referred to as GRAMA. This is the act, that if citizens want to know what government is up to, they must use this system to request documents and information. Likewise this same act also allows the government to restrict certain records, never mind they are public records and citizens have a right to know.

The reason that both men want this act changed, is to restrict the ability of taxpayers to know how much money is being paid to those they hire.
The bill that Mr. Powell is proposing to carry, would only give taxpayers a general salary range, not the specific figure.

To ask for and then propose such a bill is showing taxpayers, that once again transparency and to a smaller degree ethics is not as important as they are claimed to be.
Those who are hired in any governmental agency, need to know they work for taxpayers and taxpayers are their employers. And it should come as no surprise, that taxpayers should know what kind of bang they get for each buck they spend.
In the case of Mr. Barney, if he is unhappy in disclosing his salary to those that employ him, maybe it is time to make a quick exit and find work in the private sector.
And for Mr. Powell, perhaps, during the upcoming election, since he seems to be a serious opponent of transparency and the constitutional concept, that suggest the public has a right to know, the citizens will find someone else they can employ.

Citizens should be angry, that instead of finding ways to encourage and educate taxpayers, there seems to be a move in the opposite direction.
The issues of transparency, ethics, due diligence and the support of constitutional measures that allow citizens to know and to participate in the process are not mere words, said at certain times to make leaders, both appointed and elected look good.
They are and should be principles that men and women live by. And if leaders and others can not abide by them and support them openly and without reservation then the voters need to toss them all to the curb.

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