Are county commissioners afraid of transparency?

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Transparency has been highly valued in Livingston County — and Michigan — by both Democrats and Republicans.

For example, in 2007, state Sen. Lana Theis — then Brighton Township treasurer and leader of the Livingston County chapter of Americans for Prosperity — pushed Brighton Township to put its checkbook online, so residents could see where their money was being spent. A decade later, Theis still brags about it.

Last week, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed a directive banning the use of private email to conduct state business. This directive restricted the use of government email for non-state activity or disposing of said state emails except in compliance with already determined record retention schedules. With the signing of the directive last week, Whitmer said, “State government must be open, transparent, and accountable.” Or as Lana Theis says on her website, “Government should be open to the people it represents.”

It’s rare that a leader of the Tea Party and the top Democrat of the state agree on something. The Livingston County Commission should take advantage of this rare convergence of opinion from opposite ends of the political spectrum and reinstate the videotaping in the interests of transparency and government accountability.

When the all-Republican Livingston County Board of Commissioners did not renew the video broadcast services for its board meetings, they used the excuse that viewership was small. And one member complained that the video could be used for political purposes or to embarrass commissioners.

In other words, they are afraid of being held accountable.

We need a more transparent government that is accountable for the discussions occurring among our elected officials regarding the very decisions that will shape this county and our everyday lives for years to come.

The residents of Livingston County cannot have faith in the government if the elected officials are excused from scrutiny. Instead of trying to hide from the residents they were elected to represent, our local officials should be an example of transparency — as both Lana Theis and Gretchen Whitmer have been.

Guest column by Alex Hansen.


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About Alex Hansen 1 Article
Alex Hansen lives in Howell Township.

1 Comment

  1. I agree wholeheartedly with the views Mr. Hansen expressed. As Lana Theis said, “Government should be open to the people it represents.” I am pleased to add that Ms. Theis walks her talk as she returned a call I made to her during the busy time of the lame duck session within hours, so responsiveness is not an empty pledge on her website.

    I was surprised – and very pleased – to recently learn that the county commissioners meetings were recorded and televised. The winter weather is often a deterrent to attending, as are scheduling conflicts. I had planned to watch future broadcasts, but now I feel that I need to attend the meetings in person as I am very interested in what happens in our county. I hope that the decision to videotape these meetings is revisited soon – and re-approved. Transparency and basic accountability (not perfection) is very important to me.

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