Public should take part in government

The “West Virginia Code” stating in CHAPTER 6 “General Provisions Respecting Officers 9A-1 Open Governmental Proceedings, 6-9A-1 “Declaration of legislative policy” states:

“The Legislature hereby finds and declares that public agencies in this state exist for the singular purpose of representing citizens of this state in governmental affairs, and it is, therefore, in the best interests of the people of this state for the proceedings of public agencies be conducted openly, with only a few clearly defined exceptions. The Legislature hereby further finds and declares that the citizens of this state do not yield their sovereignty to the governmental agencies that serve them. The people in delegating authority do not give their public servants the right to decide what is good for them to know and what is not good for them to know. The people insist on remaining informed so that they may retain control over the instruments of government created by them. Open government allows the public to educate itself about government decision making through individuals’ attendance and participation at government functions, distribution of government information by the press of interested citizens, and public debate on issues deliberated within the government. Public access to information promotes attendance at meetings, improves planning of meetings, and encourages more thorough preparation and complete discussion of issues by participating officials. The government also benefits from openness because better preparation and public input allow government agencies to gauge public preferences accurately and thereby tailor their actions and policies more closely to public needs. Public confidence and understanding ease potential resistance to government programs. Accordingly, the benefits of openness unsure to both the public affected by governmental decision making and the decision makers themselves. The Legislature finds, however, that openness, public access to information and a desire to improve the operation of government do not require nor permit every meeting to be a public meeting. The Legislature finds that it would be unrealistic, if not impossible, to carry on the business of government should every meeting, every contact and every discussion seeking advice and counsel in order to acquire the necessary information, data or intelligence needed by a governing body were required to be a public meeting. It is the intent of the Legislature to balance these interests in order to allow government to function and the public to participate in a meaningful manner in public agency decision making.”

If this writer understands correctly, then I am having issues with “proceedings of public agencies be conducted openly” and “with only a few clearly defined exceptions”. Also “do not yield their sovereignty to the governmental agencies that serve them”. It sounds like a contradiction in terms.

Are the people really in control of deciding what is good for them to know and what is not good for them to know? The only way to answer that question is for the public to take advantage of the opportunity to participate in open government proceedings and policies and by accessing information by attending meetings which improves the planning of these meetings which prepares complete discussions on issues by participating officials so the public can be well informed of our political environment.

Local government bodies meet regularly. I may also add that reading the West Virginia Constitution is not boring.


Jean Fitzhugh