Save Yourself - They Won't

   Do we have the right to question?

 

Do we follow our government blindly, or do we have the right to ask questions? That is something I have pondered over the years.  The US Constitution allows us the right to redress grievances to our government. What they don't tell you is what can happen when you exercise that right.

 

What is it people want to know from their government? For this, I thought I would offer an analogy...

When you go to a casino, and you win, you generally have two choices for cashing out. The machine that you insert your ticket in or you go to the cashier's cage. When you go to the cashier, there is a transaction that takes place, all very silent but noticeable. The cashier is well trained. Part of that training is how to treat people. But another part of it, the part relevant to the analogy, also takes place. The number one thing the cashier's are taught - it isn't their money. They sign for it, but it doesn't belong to them. There are cameras all around the cashier's area, both inside the booth and outside. This protects the cashier, the customer and the casino. One of the things you will notice is the cashier's hands are always above the counter. When they receive your ticket, they turn their hands over both ways. When they cash you out, they turn their hands over both ways. This is to prove to all parties that no shady deals are being transacted - nothing is being hidden or tucked away. The entire transaction is completely above board and above scrutiny.

This is what people want from their governments. They want to see both sides of the hands.

What they receive, most of the time, is less than what they want or should expect. They expect that their dollars should be used wisely and for the purpose it is intended. Unfortunately, in many towns, that is not what happens. So, the citizens ask questions of those spending the dollars. They ask for records, that they end up paying for. This payment system was set up as a deterrent to people asking for the records. If government wanted us to see what the money was being spent on, they would provide these records willingly. In fact, I have noticed, the more they charge or fight it, the more they have to hide. These people don't wanted to be questioned. They want to be followed. It is ironic, that even in a small town, what power they perceive they have. In reality, they are mocked.

Another thing that happens is they generate their own, vague reports. This system of "being transparent" is not transparent at all. Instead of providing the actual accounting records, they create their own spreadsheets. The numbers are often bogus and are allocated in ways that were not agreed to. When people find this out, they point out the waste and violations. Those in charge of the spending name call. They open secret files on those people asking questions, which turn out not to be so secret. They are snarky and rude. They insinuate that thousands of tax dollars are spent complying when, in reality, thousands are authorized, by our elected, to fight the light. They make statements regarding the intelligence of the person asking for the records, as if the person could never understand how complicated it is. Its not complicated.

City hall and the elected folks say there are no funds or time to comply with sunshine laws or requests. Yet, they fail to provide proof of those statements. They refuse to provide time audits or bank statements. In many cases, numbers are simply inserted as placeholders and have no real basis to accuracy. Our committees and elected follow blindly. And when that blindness is pointed out, they attack.

In the last few years in Lafayette, under the current leadership - a leadership elected with the promise of proper oversight, our payroll has skyrocketed and waste is out of control. We have had utility funds transferred into accounts that have no business holding utility funds. Decisions are made that exclude the citizens. Choices are made to expand with no expectation of essential planning for these residents. Our water situation has gone from one where we know what is going on to the mindset of 'don't worry your pretty little head about it', all the while city hall refusing to even provide reservoir level information, despite repeated requests.

Over the next few months, additional information will be shared regarding the activities of our elected, upper staff at city hall and the 'chosen' citizens who have unlimited access to our tax dollars.. It isn't a pretty picture and one I had decided to leave alone. But, recently, given the very public nature of the blocking of records and attempted intimidation tactics, it seems the information is more important than ever.

Travel the journey as we learn more about our right to ask questions, the actions of our local government - and those affiliated with them - and the repercussions that follow when you do.