Thursday, December 14, 2006
We have a right to know how selectmen vote
Goffstown selectmen were recently asked by a resident of that town why they donít record their votes by name. Their answer was that, well, itís just always been that way, and, after all, it doesnít really matter how any particular board member votes because they are all one board anyway once a decision is made.
What these selectmen, and many other public officials, are denying is that it does matter how they vote. When we are trying to decide who best represents our interests, it matters a great deal when you can find out how a person in office votes. Letís say you are interested in keeping your taxes low, but you can see that one particular selectman always votes in favor of big spending, while the rest donít. Wouldnít you rule out voting for that one selectman in the future? But if that voting record is kept secret, you would have no way of knowing which selectmen are representing your interests.
Whether the law requires it or not, selectmen and all other public officials should record their votes. The general public cannot attend their meetings as a matter of course (And where would they host all those people if they did show up?), nor are they likely to watch the videotaped record of the meeting as a matter of course. But anyone should be able to look up in the townís minutes who voted yes or no on any town decision. Thatís the permanent public record, thatís where the vote should be recorded by name, not just a simple 4-1 for or against.
Goffstown selectmen and all other public officials should take the stance that the public has a right to know how every individual vote went and the reasoning behind that vote. Records should be complete, accurate and easily available to all in a timely manner. Anything less is simply keeping secrets from the public they are elected to serve.
- Editorials published by Neighborhood News Inc. are written by an editorial board.
Reproduced by the Goffstown
December 14, 2006 - Goffstown
want no vote record >>
December 12, 2006 - GRA
ignore outrage over right-to-know issue
December 10, 2006 - New
Hampshire Sunday New Article
to know concerns raised in Goffstown >>
December 5, 2006 - GRA
D'Avanza and Hunter vote against public's right-to-know
Hampshire RSA 91-A:2