Selma City Council deserves our thanks
Published 12:00 am Wednesday, March 30, 2005
Our thanks to the Selma City Council for defeating resolution number R146-04/05. The resolution would have required members of the council to bring questions for department heads before the entire City Council along with the motives behind those questions before they could be passed on to the mayor for consideration.
The move came in response to unpopular questions Councilman Cecil Williamson submitted to various department heads against city policy.
After much public debate about the proposed law, City Attorney Jimmy Nunn called on the League of Municipalities for suggestions. They reportedly suggested that he rewrite the resolution, seeking to clarify that their “intentions” were directed to limit special requests and not public information.
Even with the apparent changes, the council decided against the resolution. It was a good choice.
The council’s actions spoke loudly at Monday’s meeting. The majority of the City Council told Selmians that they were in favor of open government and that the City of Selma will not hide behind any resolution or rule.
Some claimed that Williamson’s requests were for malicious intent. They cited times in the past where others twisted the “facts” for their own purposes.
Those councilpersons say that for the good of the city, they must judge a person’s intent before allowing them to move forward.
While we respect the city’s need to be able to conduct business without being bombarded with requests, it is imperative that citizens remain able to get information. Even if those citizens disagree with those who control the information.
In the end, it is up to the public to decide what is valuable information and what is “twisted facts.” If the facts are indeed twisted, they can always be countered with the truth.
With the State’s Attorney General and state legislators pushing for more open government, the city may have avoided further trouble down the road by defeating this resolution.
Coming October 1 of this year the new Sunshine Law will be in effect. The State has decided that the majorities of our city governments aren’t open enough.
The fact that the resolution has been defeated is great, but now there needs to be some accountability. Open government is open only when the people have access to the information in a timely manner.
Let’s hope that those who supported this resolution see this as a sign that Selma will not stand for anything less than an open government.