by Robert Cohen Wrentham, MA
As part of the process for educating myself for this campaign and preparing myself to be an effective Selectman, I have been talking to many people, friends, neighbors, residents whom I don’t know, and various town officials.
Almost universally people observe a lack of information and an atmosphere of distrust–regardless of which side of an issue.
Timely and accurate information are foundational elements for a healthy democracy. Without both, our ability to make informed choices is hobbled; it also makes us vulnerable to the spin doctors and the special interest groups. Without access to objective fact, rumors, half-truths, and out-right lies share equal footing with truth.
Not too long ago the term transparency achieved status as a battle cry and buzzword. Fueled by cries from citizens demanding government officials and businesses and neighbors be honest and forthcoming about their activities, it flew around the world many times.
What does it mean? Transparency is “openness, communication, and accountability.” It is “the opposite of privacy. An activity is transparent if all information about it is open and freely available,” (Transparency, Wikipedia).
When it guides the actions of elected and appointed officials, municipal employees, businesses and citizens, an atmosphere of trust is possible. When information is withheld or appears to be withheld, distrust flourishes.