During the New Boston Village Council meeting on March 6, members of council unanimously passed a resolution recognizing March 11-17 as Sunshine Week, and committed itself to continue its long-held practice of transparency and communication with the public.
Before joining New Boston Council, I spent nearly 15 years as a writer and editor for the Portsmouth Daily Times, and as a journalist, I learned the importance of transparency. It’s something all media should demand of our officials, from school boards and township trustees all the way up to our federal government. No seat is too big or too small to be held accountable by the people it serves, and Sunshine Week promotes that importance to support an informed democracy.
I have always been impressed by the village of New Boston’s commitment to transparency. They have been leaders in Scioto County; among the first to adopt an online checkbook and police body cameras. I’m proud also to say council was among the first to live stream council meetings, available for free on the New Boston Councilman Ryan Ottney Facebook page, to allow more people an opportunity to see what happens during public meetings.
In my days as a journalist, the village of New Boston was always cooperative and transparent whenever I would call asking for information about a story I was writing – even when it wasn’t flattering news. No elected body ever wants to receive that call, and I can assure you no journalist really wants to make it. But it is important to our community that the public be made aware of all things its government is doing.
To cover the true news — without bias, warts and all — that is the important role that journalists play today. In our three-branch system of government checks and balances, the media is the noble fourth estate keeping a watchful eye for you, the people. And that tradition is under attack today. Elected officials have declared the media “the enemy of America” and shout “fake news” at anything that disagrees with their political narrative.
Make no mistake, the real enemy of America is silence.
Sunshine Laws require open, public meetings and access to public records, and Sunshine Week is a time when we reaffirm our commitment to that promise and hold those accountable who would challenge it.
With the unanimous resolution passed on March 6, I am proud of New Boston Village Council for continuing its support of transparency and public communication. The New Boston Village Council meets at 6:30 p.m. on the first and third Tuesday of each month at the New Boston Community Center in New Boston.
We’ll leave a light on for you.
Ryan Ottney is a member of the New Boston Village Council. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.