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GOVERNMENT More checks, balances

The OBSERVER’s View

A recent report card offers a mixed bag regarding how our local governments are doing when it comes to transparency during an unprecedented pandemic.

According to the The New York Coalition for Open Government, there are some municipalities that are thriving and others are just outright flunking when it comes to involving the public. “Meetings now are being done remotely,” said Paul Wolf, president of the coalition recently. “We believe that the public should see and hear what the elected officials do.”

But even here in northern Chautauqua County, some of the coalition’s grades need to be met with some skepticism. At the head of the class was the city of Dunkirk with an A grade, while Fredonia scored a B. Silver Creek and Gowanda rated a C while Cassadaga and Brocton were a failure.

Dunkirk, transparent through its Public Access Channel, may not be totally worthy of that high mark. In its first council meeting of April, letters submitted by the public on time were not read or discussed. It was only through an OBSERVER Freedom of Information request did we find that some letters were ignored by the council.

Everyone is struggling with the coronavirus. Public officials are no exception.

Transparency, however, is especially important at this time due to fiscal implications that will face each and every government moving forward. Major decisions are looming. Not including the public through some sort of access is just not acceptable.

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