League promotes transparency
Wednesday, February 26, 2014 9:00 PM
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, members of the League of Women Voters have been on the frontlines to promote governmental transparency at the local, state and national levels.
The League believes it is incredibly important for citizens to know more about their government. Since 1947, members of the LWV of Montgomery County have served as observers at many of the government boards, councils, and commissions in Crawfordsville and the county.
The 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 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 twenty-one local boards. At the county level, the League members regularly observe the County Commissioners, County Council, Convention and Visitors Commission, Health Board, Planning Commission, Redevelopment Commission, and Sewer District. At the city level, the LWV observes the Common Council, Historic Preservation Board, Parks and Recreation Board, Redevelopment Commission, and the Utility Service Board. Leaguers observe the Union and Walnut Township Boards and the New Ross Town Board.
League members also observe the Crawfordsville School Board, North Montgomery School Board and South Montgomery School Board as well the Crawfordsville District Public Library Board.
League observers include: Patience Barnes, Mary Barnett, Karen Branch, Austin Brooks, Lucy Brooks, James D. Cherry, Angela Cooley, Nancy Doemel, Deanna Durrett, Sue Fain, Lexie Hoerl, Cheryl Keim, Mary Kelch, Russ Ruby, Sandra Ruby, Virginia Servies, Jim Spence, and Marie Stocks. Some observe more than one board.
In addition, League members now serve as elected or appointed members on one or more of thirty-seven county, city, township, town, library and school boards, commissions, and councils. Many of these board members began as observers!
Tonight the current League Observers will present reports and updates to the League membership at the annual LWV Observer Corps Dinner Meeting.
The League of Women Voters, a non-partisan, 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. All men and women are invited to join the LWV where hands-on work to safeguard democracy leads to civic improvement. For information about the League, visit the website www.lwvmontco.org or send message P.O.101 Crawfordsville, 47933 or email@example.com.