Frank and open discussion

Fear and Loathing in Waynesboro column by Chris Graham
freepress2@ntelos.net

“I’m a very open guy. I believe that government should be run in the open.”

Frank Lucente, March 31, 2008

“I’m not making any comment about the mayor, because I don’t think that should be a public discussion.”

Frank Lucente, May 19, 2008

Interesting how much things can change in a couple of months, eh? Frank Lucente was very much an open-government guy back in March when he made a political issue of a proposed Tv candidates forum that he didn’t want to see happen, publicly lambasting members of the soon-to-be minority on city council for talking up that issue amongst themselves. But now that the issue is who gets to be mayor come July 1, well, “I don’t think that should be a public discussion,” i.e. Me and Bruce and Tim get to decide that one amongst us.

Sorry, Frank, but you can’t have it both ways – and why is it that I have a feeling that I’m going to be finding myself saying that a lot the next four years? The mayor position in a city with a city-manager form of government is largely ceremonial, if largely even begins to describe it. For the most part, the mayor is just the person who bangs the gavel to open and close city-council meetings and represents the city at ribbon cuttings and other such events. But it carries the title mayor with it, and since we the people don’t get to directly elect the person who gets to hold the title, it seems that we should at the least be privy to whatever discussions are going on regarding how it will be bestowed.

Personally, I don’t understand the reluctance to get this one out into the public domain. As I wrote yesterday, Lucente discussed the mayor issue with me over lunch early last week, and I know from talking with others in local government and politics circles later in the week that the word was obviously getting around town.

Are we to glean, then, from Lucente’s comments about how this isn’t supposed to be a “public discussion,” that it’s OK for those in the know to be privy to what’s being talked about behind the scenes, but the average Waynesboro resident, the taxpayer, “the little guy” that we heard so much about in the ’08 city campaign, has no right to know anything other than what they’re supposed to know?

I know that I’m supposed to be an elitist, and hey, I am one of those in the know, so to speak, and I did know about this before everybody else did, for the record, but I’m a bit offended at the suggestion that the behind the scenes on who is going to be our next mayor isn’t for public consumption.

The people pay the salaries of those who serve on city council; the people pay that extra stipend to the person who ends up being elected mayor. The people have a right to know that their elected representatives are talking behind the scenes about who is going to be mayor. And I think the people would agree with me that they shouldn’t be talking behind the scenes.

One of those people is the Frank Lucente of March 31, 2008.

“I’m a very open guy. I believe that government should be run in the open.”

My sentiments exactly.


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