At the Fan District Hub, a community news website, I've posted an OpEd style essay on "sunlight" into the workings of government. It advises Mayor-elect Dwight Jones to see sunlight as part of the solution to Richmond's problems. The beginning of the piece is as follows:
Over the last year, what had been an ambient longing for cultural and political change coalesced. The voters willingly took a leap of faith. But what happened on election day, with its dramatic mandate for change, wasn’t the fickle result of a tidal wave. It came from what had been a long steady rain.
With high-profile executives under fire in many quarters, 2008 has proven to be a bad year for bad leaders. In both the private and public sectors incompetent leadership has been denounced bitterly.
Just as the nation is now eagerly watching President-elect Barack Obama for signs of hope that change will mean brighter days ahead, Richmonders have their eyes on Mayor-elect Dwight Jones. Coincidentally, or not, Obama and Jones are both following executives whose once-shimmering luster of popularity has faded to black.
Now Dwight Jones has the power to make a savvy move that would put him in a good light, as he prepares to take office with the new year. He could act boldly to show everybody in town, including current and future employees of The City of Richmond, just how willing he’s going to be to break with the yesterday’s cloistered way of doing the people’s business.
Jones could say, “Let there be sunlight.”
Or, Jones could blow off the opportunity, to stick with the traditional way of running governments that has wanted as little kibitzing from John Q. Public as possible.
Whatever Jones does, “sunlight” is a political issue that is only going to get bigger.
Today’s technology makes it possible for City Hall to open itself up to scrutiny from any citizen with access to the Internet. If Richmond wants to do it in 2009, this city could allow the taxpayers to follow their money through the machinery of government to where it gets spent.
Please click here to read the rest of "Sunlight in 2009."