Vigilante or Just Vigilant?

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CENTRAL FIRST BLUE bI have been asked both publicly and privately why I have made public records requests, and what I have found in the process.  I have also had a number of Central’s elected officials criticize me in public for daring to exercise the fundamental right of a citizen to openly view the activities of the government.
    Over the upcoming weeks I will be sharing some important things that I have learned about the goings-on in Central’s government.  Today, I’ll share with you why I spend countless hours attending public meetings, researching, and reviewing public records.
    At a recent City Council meeting a council member compared me to a “public records vigilante.”  I’ve been struck by the subtle but important difference in the words “vigilante” and “vigilant”.  
Vigilante: A citizen who undertakes law enforcement in their community without legal authority.
Vigilant: Keenly watchful to detect danger; wary; ever awake and alert; sleeplessly watchful.
    The Code of Ethics of the 117-year-old Society of Professional Journalists uses the word “vigilant”.  A portion of that Society’s Code of Ethics reads:  “Be vigilant and courageous about holding those with power accountable…Recognize a special obligation to serve as watchdogs over public affairs and government. Seek to ensure that the public’s business is conducted in the open, and that public records are open to all.”
    Central has no TV station, no radio station, no news magazine, and only one weekly newspaper.  As the columnist and reporter tasked with covering the activities of Central’s city government for the past six years, I feel an obligation to be vigilant, to be a “watchdog over public affairs,” to promote the open conduct of the public’s business.  Most recently, I have found the need to ensure “that public records are open to all.”
    I have every belief that the city still has not produced the public documents I have requested, but I have received a portion of them.  Now, out of a duty to the citizens who agree with me that the affairs of our government should be open for public inspection, and in response to the elected officials who have called public records requests a waste of tax dollars, I will share some information I have found thus far.
    Beginning next week, Central Speaks will publish a series of investigative reports, covering one issue each week that has been confirmed or discovered through a public records request.  We will print only what is true, verifiable, and responsible.
    Don’t pick up Central Speaks each week looking for a “scandal,” as you may be disappointed.  However, if you want some insights into the activities of your government, these articles may be of interest.  Having citizens who appreciate “the open conduct of the public’s business” is Good News for a Great City.

1 Comment

  1. larbo

    January 14, 2016 at 10:36 pm

    Please continue to be “vigilant” and report all news, good or bad, that affects our wonderful city and community. There will always be naysayers and others who will disagree with what is printed in Central Speaks. However, as long as it is the truth, it needs to be said! Thank you for telling the truth in your newspaper, Central Speaks!
    Larbo Dale

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