By JEFF JOBE
Transparency in government at all levels is essential to upholding American democracy. Having access is the only sure way to hold politicians accountable and make sure our citizens and business communities are given the same opportunities. In fact, it’s law.
Too often politicians at all levels campaign on issues or themes that excite us. They point out the flaws of their competitors or make grand promises to sway our opinions to stay in office. Sometimes their campaigning gives a new one a chance. You know the promises. We can all recall a campaign promise made and once in office is never discussed again.
Recently I was fortunate to have been chosen to participate in the first-ever Skype White House Press Conference and this gave me an opportunity to ask a question. I believe second only to being a watchdog for government spending, helping keep politicians focused is my job.
I believe if President Donald Trump, and Governor Matt Bevin had more people asking about job creation, honoring our financial commitments, and assuring us all of equality we would see a stronger country.
My question to President Trump regarding removing the overreaching government regulations on coal, this newspaper’s exclusive interview with Gov. Bevin on job creation, and my questions to Electric Plant Board Superintendent Billy Ray is about keeping our readers informed.
The Barren County Progress has reported that Glasgow’s larger industries are using more energy and saving thousands of dollars while senior citizens on fixed incomes are shutting off air conditioning and heat during peak demands in hope of offsetting higher rates and increased fees. This fact alone should give any sincere and competent council member and mayor enough motivation to ask questions, demand answers, and replace those responsible for creating or allowing such situations to exist.
However, there’s another example of boards surrendering responsibility to citizens. Glasgow’s Electric Plant Board directors have removed themselves from any specific oversight and knowledge about more than $7M spent by EPB Superintendent Billy Ray. They even allowed safeguards protecting us such as spending caps and open meetings laws to be ignored and have made no effort to hold him accountable to tax payers.
Now this EPB board is sitting back and allowing him to question motives and misrepresent facts involving council members, community-minded individuals, and the local newspaper publisher for doing nothing more than asking reasonable questions.
Ray’s recent letter to SET program participants stating that he is protecting their private information from me is a blatant attempt to misrepresent the facts. What I asked to see is specifically how over $7M in grant money was spent in this community.
It is time to fix this problem once and for all and it starts with our mayor and city council putting in place a board capable of managing this man or strong enough to get rid of him. Until our city leaders step up and act on behalf of the citizens who elected them to office, their integrity along with that of every board appointee, employees of the EPB and local contractors doing business as part of the SET program is in jeopardy.
Jeff Jobe is founder and CEO of Jobe Publishing, Inc. His commentary reflects his personal views and does not reflect the views of personal or professional associations and affiliations. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Read his previously published commentary at www.jobeforkentucky.com