League encourages open government
Wednesday, March 20, 2013 10:00 PM
During the month of March, the League of Women Voters joins other organizations in observing Sunshine Week and encouraging open government. The sunshine overture seeks to enlighten and empower citizens to play an active role in their government at all levels and to give them access to information that makes their lives better and their communities stronger. Open government is important to everyone in the community.
The United States system of government is based on the premise that government is a creature of the people and is accountable to them. An open and accountable government is the cornerstone of a healthy, vibrant democracy. Since its founding, League members have been on the frontlines to promote governmental transparency at the local, state and national levels.
The League believes it is exceedingly important for citizens to know more about their government. Since 1947, members of the League of Monrtgomery County have served as observers at many of the government boards, councils, and commissions in Crawfordsville and the county.
The LWV Observers listen and learn how these governmental boards function and what issues they handle. The League seeks to assist its members and the public to become better educated about local issues. The Observers are the eyes and ears of the League-a pipeline to what is being thought, said, and done in local government.
The LWV's Observer Corps is a benefit not only for its members but also for the citizens as large, as well as for the governmental bodies observed. Often, the League observer is the only member of the public present at some board meetings; and by that presence, the board members know that citizens are interested and do care.
Observers note whether the open door policy is being followed. Is there an agenda and are minutes kept? Which board members are present and absent at each meeting? Is the media present and are reports made to the public? Are members of the public present? If so, are they given an opportunity to speak? Is there adequate seating for all who attend, and can the proceedings be heard by everyone? Is voting conducted properly?
The League is presently observing nineteen local boards. At the county level, the League members regularly observe the County Commissioners, County Council, Health Board, Planning Commission, Soil and Water Conservation District, Visitors & Convention Commission, and Visitors and Tourism Bureau.
At the city level, the LWV currently observes the Common Council, Board of Public Works and Safety, Redevelopment Commission, Park and Recreation Board, Plan Commission, Utility Service Board, Historic Preservation Commission and Lew Wallace Study Preservation Board. League members also observe the Crawfordsville District Public Library Board, Union Township Board, New Richmond Town Council, Crawfordsville School Board and North Montgomery School Board. Observers for other boards are being recruited.
League observers during 2012-2013 LWV year include: Patience Barnes, Mary Barnett, Austin Brooks, Lucy Brooks, James D. Cherry, Mary Angela Cooley, John Cowan, Nancy Doemel, Deanna Durrett, Rob Durrett, Vern Easterling, Sue Fain, Ruth Hallett, Lexie Hoerl, Donna McGrady, Carole Meyer, Russ Ruby, Sandra Ruby, Claudette Russell, Jim Spence and Pat Stull.
In addition, 29 League members serve as elected or appointed officials or members of one or more boards, commissions and councils.
The League of Women Voters, a nonpartisan, multi-issue political organization, encourages informed and active participation in government, works to increase public understanding of major policy issues and influences public policy through education and advocacy.