Editorial: Open access a must
June 11, 2011
Moffat County’s participation in the Colorado Counties, Inc., 2011 Annual Summer Conference was a good thing and possibly provided our elected officials with good insight and information. However, the public being required to pay to attend does not foster an atmosphere of transparency and open access, as government should be.
The Moffat County Commission sent one of its three members — Audrey Danner — this week to the Colorado Counties, Inc., 2011 Annual Summer Conference in Eagle County.
On the surface, it appears the three-day gathering at the Vail Cascade Resort & Spa included valuable information and insight for our local commissioner to hear and bring back home to Moffat County.
While perhaps the host site was a bit extravagant for elected and public officials who mostly operate on tight budgets, nonetheless networking with other counties and officials isn't necessarily a bad thing.
However, the Editorial Board does take exception with one facet of the event, and that lies in its inclusion policy.
Without being a member of the organization, anyone from the public would have been required to pay — and a pricey sum at that — to attend the event.
The Editorial Board doesn't think this paid admission policy falls within what should be two of government's primary points of emphasis — transparency and open access.
The fact is, government officials responsible for public dollars and affairs attended the event, so people hoping to learn more about what their elected and public officials are working on should have been allowed to attend for free.
In today's day and age, when voter involvement is waning in almost every regard, should our public and elected leaders be participating in events that don't allow for free access?
The Editorial Board doesn't think so.
We certainly hope commissioner Danner gained good knowledge during the conference and can educate commissioners Tom Gray and Tom Mathers on what she learned, ideally for the benefit of local residents.
However, we won't know for certain what she had access to because the public was granted admission without a price.
In the future, we hope this organization to which Moffat County and many other counties pay dues reexamines this exclusionary policy that's contrary to public good.