Everything Bremerton: Public business needs the public
By COLLEEN SMIDT
Bremerton Patriot Community Columnist
February 8, 2011 · Updated 1:35 PM
Conducting the public’s business in the public arena is an integral part of representative government and the system of transparency that goes along with it. In today’s world, much of the public is either missing or not participating in its own process. Subsequently, a community that does not involve itself to some degree is reduced solely to a reactionary role when any representative government entity makes decisions that are not to the public’s liking. Reacting after the fact is the only alternative, rather than being proactive and involved in community affected decisions from the very beginning.
Most of us live a hectic lifestyle of work, family and play that gives us little free time. The thought of dry meetings and complex budgets, rulings and/or legislation can be overwhelming and daunting. A certain amount of reliance on the local press to report, clarify and either condense or expand on local public issues and the involved entitites is a good thing. But it is no way a free pass or excuse to avoid what really is an ingrained civic duty to our community and to the process.
Organizations that profit from or partner with representative publicly-funded government entities need to do so with the full understanding and knowledge that their business with the public — for the public and paid for by the public — will be made available to the public and will undergo a certain amount of additional scrutiny and open discussion. This includes the good and bad, warts and all. When reports are given, testimony is made and details are discussed with a full quorum of elected representatives present, all of what occurs under those conditions belongs to the public and their right to take that information, share it with the rest of the community and pretty much do what they wish with it. That is what I do all the time.
Organizations that are not comfortable working and/or partnering under such open public conditions should reassess why they feel that way and maybe change how they conduct their business. The public also needs to step up its involvement and participation to make sure its money and resources are being stewarded in the best interest of the public by all of the hands that it passes through. Many representative entities need and desire the outside, third party opinion that the public has to offer.
Help to put a little more of the public back into the process.