On the Right Lane: The secrets they keep

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“The liberties of a people never were, nor ever will be, secure, when the transactions of their rulers may be concealed from them.”

Patrick Henry

Once again the use of our tax dollars is hidden from us whether we like it or not. In this case, Windham town councilors conducted a “Special Meeting – Executive Session – Not Televised,” which was the way it was publicly advertised on the town’s website. Of course what we see is the usual government disclosure of a personnel matter: “discussion or consideration of the employment, appointment, assignment, duties, promotion, demotion, compensation, evaluation, disciplining, resignation or dismissal of an individual or group of public officials, appointees or employees of the body or agency.” Really? Something is missing here.

Shouldn’t the taxpayers be informed when a position of importance in a municipality such as the hiring of a new town manager is being discussed? Actually that should apply to any position of importance. The statement that I quoted above is so vague that citizens are left totally clueless as to what our elected government officials are doing. My point is that they are government officials and we should know what they are doing.

I will admit I agree just a wee little bit to some of employee matters being kept private.  But when it comes to a public employee doing something really bad or illegal, it should come out in public just as it does with those not in government. There are plenty of stories circulating around about a government worker hired by a municipality or, even worse, an educational facility that should have known of their new hire’s past deficiencies. Decades ago when I began my military a law enforcement agency every once in a while would come and arrest someone for a serious crime committed many years prior. Hopefully computers have solved that problem from happening these days.

And here’s what else really gripes me:  the severance packages that certain government employees receive, even if booted out of their jobs. How in the world did this come about? In my early days in the military we could accrue 30 days of leave a year and never have to use it. I know of some that never used one day of leave until they retired so they could cash it in. Somewhere in 1970s the military ended that practice, and as of Oct. 1 each year a soldier would lose any amount of accrued leave in excess of 60 days. It also capped the total amount of leave cashed in at 60 days as well. If the town of Windham has no caps on such accrued vacation time, it’s time the taxpayers demand something be done. If one doesn’t use vacation time they should lose it just like the military does. It’s there for a reason and sadly many part-time employees don’t have any vacation at all.

Lane Hiltunen of Windham wonders when or if all employees, either government or not, should receive their full pay when bad weather doesn’t permit them to get to their jobs.