Public documents should be easily and quickly accessible
The government is supposed to be "by the people, for the people." Government documents are the property of the people and should be easily accessible. Any documents that do not "frustrate with the process of government (i.e., closed session minutes or some personnel information)" should be publicly available, perhaps on the town website.
I understand the need to fill out a form for documents not on the website so requests don't get "lost in the shuffle," but it is ridiculous to have to fill out a form to get a meeting packet, which contains documents that are the business of the citizens.
Before (Summerfield town clerk) Valarie's leave, the meeting documents and packets were available on the town's website, usually the Wednesday before the (upcoming Tuesday) meeting; this gave citizens ample time to view them so they could come to town meetings prepared. Since April, I have had to request packets and other documents, as they were not available in a timely manner.
I requested minutes of meetings that have not been posted to the website soon after the meeting, as they were in the past.
Our council has requested that there be an accounting of how much staff time (staff payroll) goes into fulfilling these requests. It doesn't matter how much time, money and effort goes into it! These documents belong to the people and must be made available.
Providing access to documents is the hallmark of transparency in government - a mandate which must be honored.
March 12-18 was national Sunshine Week. Unfortunately, citizens on the town's Sunshine list have not been receiving information at all, or in a timely manner in the last several months.
In a 2016 blog post, David Chavern wrote: "Transparency in government is essential to upholding American democracy. When citizens have access to behind-the-scenes information about local and federal administrations, politicians are held accountable. Access to information keeps Americans educated and ensures that our political leaders are transparent. It is worth reflecting the role information plays in strengthening our democracy. America can only be a strong nation when its citizens are engaged and informed."
Teresa Pegram, SUMMERFIELD
Police officers should protect, not kill unarmed citizens
I wonder how people who have called 911 have been shot by police officers. In Minneapolis, an Australian woman (Justine Damond) called 911. One of the responding police officers shot and killed her. She was unarmed, hadn't broken any laws, and was in her pajamas.
Why was she killed?
We will have to wait till the police officers get their story straight. Both officers were wearing body cameras, but for some reason they weren't turned on. Neither officer has been fired. They are on administrative leave, which is the same as a paid vacation.
I have written it before, and I will write it again. We need a national law, or Constitutional amendment, stating that any police officer who takes a life should not be allowed to work in law enforcement any more.
Police officers are supposed to serve and protect all citizens, not kill unarmed women who are in their pajamas. No police officer should have a "license to kill."