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Open government and transparency, revisited

By Scott Tibbs, July 25, 2016

The premise of my guest editorial last week - that elected county administrators should be using county government's e-mail server - was not a controversial premise. My column nonetheless was controversial. Some of that was because I am the one who wrote it, and there are a number of Leftists who will react angrily to anything I write because they dislike me personally. Some of the complaints were because I unnecessarily "politicized" the issue, with the goal of scoring political points.

My response to that criticism: Hogwash. Of course this is a political issue. Thomas and Stoffers are elected officials. As elected officials, they are accountable to the public for what they do, and the voters deserve to be educated about what their elected representatives are doing in county government. The actions of elected officials are inherently political actions and should be addressed in a political context. And let's not forget that Julie Thomas is up for re-election this fall. Her handling of her e-mail is an important issue for voters to consider in whether they will hand her another four-year term.

Leftists know this is absolutely a political issue, which is why they do not want it politicized. They would rather it be a dry policy discussion when it could potentially damage their favored candidates. But their hypocrisy is obvious. When Leftists write letters to the editor or guest editorials criticizing Republican elected officials for actions in office, you do not see other Leftists whining that the official conduct should not be politicized.

When it comes to transparency and open government, there's no argument here - official communications should be stored and backed up on county e-mail servers, not someone's private Gmail account or someone's private Hotmail account. It speaks volumes that not a single Leftist who criticized me presented a substantive argument for why I am wrong on the issue of transparency. None of them even attempted to do so. If your only argument against my editorial is that I made a political point about what politicians are doing in their official capacity, then you have no argument. You are simply whining that politicians you support got caught.