Monday, April 1, 2013

Transparency a Two-Party Responsibility

Transparency a Two-Party Responsibility
Commentary by Sanford D. Horn
April 1, 2013

There’s a fine line between protecting an individual’s privacy rights and downright secrecy; and the Indiana House has pole vaulted over it in its complete abandonment of transparency according to “House opts for secrecy,” the article written by Ryan Sabalow in the March 26 Indy Star.

While protecting a citizen’s privacy is vital, there are ways to provide the public with information to which they are entitled pertaining to the spending of taxpayer dollars.

A party-line vote on an amendment availing the public to documentation regarding appraisals and relocations failed, thus keeping such information “permanently secret,” according to Sabalow.

The amendment, written by Rep. Matt Pierce (D-Bloomington) didn’t garner any Republican support when it is typically the GOP calling for governmental transparency. Instead it was Rep. Jerry Torr (R-Carmel) among others who said such transparency would damage the state’s negotiating power and that appraisals could include photos of the properties in question, thus leading to miscreant behavior.

A solution to this quagmire could simply provide financial statistics to the public while eliminating any publication of photographs. This way the taxpaying public knows how the money is being allocated and the state would still bear the responsibility of explaining the motives for such expenditures.

This isn’t brain surgery. But then if it were, the state house would empty out pretty quickly.

Sanford D. Horn is a writer and educator living in Westfield, IN.

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