Sunday, April 6, 2008

Rob Henken Argues For Better Government

Rob Henken, the new Executive Director of the Public Policy Forum, correctly writes that there is a need for stronger government leadership, cooperation and focus on results.

I agree.

He says we should also focus on the positive, and, again I agree, given the severity of the region's economic and social problems.

And without being contradictory, I would also argue that all the units of government, and organizations that play watchdog roles - - media included - - still need to take government officials to task when secrecy and the public's exclusion is official practice.

Case in point: the ability of the Southeastern Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission to approve a new Executive Director without an outside, objective search and any effective notice to the public that the position was open and change in the agency's management was possible.

Government will get more respect when its leaders and actions earn it.

In SEWRPC's case, there was intentional withholding of the facts and dismissal of any public participatory process.

And I have yet to hear a peep of criticism from major media or even officials from seven counties who send the agency millions in operating tax dollars annually.

I have argued, here, that SEWRPC sacrificed much of its dwindling credibility with the hiring game it just played.

Maybe that's OK with the folks there who run it, since they are not elected and escape voter accountability.

But the rest of us should continue to call them out even as we also find better examples of public policy-making, as Henken suggests, and which would help the region, that are meritorious on both process and results.

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