Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

April 17, 2014

Letter to the Editor: April 17, 2014

Vote for transparent government

On March 20 of this year I attended a public meeting of the Tipton County Economic Development Alliance. Members of this group include the three county commissioners, a member of the county council, two members from the city council, and the mayor.

Their purpose was to provide oversight of the local economic development organization since that board of six citizen members receives over $150,000 of public monies to manage.

At this meeting, the alliance approved the minutes from the only meeting they had last year, which was on May 30, 2013. After I reviewed the minutes from the 2013 meeting, I found this fact: The agenda distributed to the audience at the meeting contained no opportunity for public comment.

As soon as the meeting started, Kokomo Tribune reporter Ken de la Bastide requested that the alliance amend the agenda for inclusion of public comments. A motion was made and seconded to allow public comment.

The motion then was carried 5-1 with Commissioner Phil Heron being the only one opposed to allowing public comment.

During the amended agenda/public comment part of the meeting, the floor was opened to comment. Discussion involved issues of transparency, public access, better communications among stakeholders, the format of alliance meetings and the best way to market and report the decisions, actions and finances of the alliance to the public.

On March 15 of this year, I received from Mr. Heron a campaign brochure that plainly states, “I believe in open and transparent government. All citizens questions and needs should be addressed.”

Does Mr. Heron really believe that voting to disallow public comment is “open and transparent government?”

It’s obvious from the public comments made that day that there are citizens who want to be heard and have concerns that need to be addressed.

I believe that a man’s actions speak volumes. It’s not what you say or print on your campaign brochure, it’s what you do that counts. Mr. Heron’s actions spoke loud and clear May 30, 2013.

This style of closed government has gone on long enough. It’s time for a change.

On May 6, Tipton County residents will have an option for change. Mr. Gerald Shuck truly believes in transparency. He has vowed to be open and available to all county citizens and will provide all public information upon request. He will only participate in decisions made in public meetings after all information has been studied.

As have gotten to know Mr. Shuck, I firmly believe he is a man that does what he promises. Vote May 6 for real open and transparent government.

Brent Snow, Tipton