Information is power, citizens

 

By David Lewis, Editor & Publisher

     A few months ago, I chastised Aubrey ISD officials, particularly interim Superintendent Debby Sanders, for not informing the public after their long-time high school principal was arrested for DWI and placed on leave.

     Specifically, I thought she should have given us a call instead of letting the rumor mill spread the bad news.

     Sanders was still feeling her way in the job at the time, so she was due some slack. Since then, she has been named superintendent of schools, and she has grown in confidence and understanding of her obligations.

     Last Friday, Sanders called me late in the day to let me know she had sent a letter to Aubrey ISD parents informing them of a possible local link to the man who was hospitalized with Ebola in Dallas. Although the link was tenuous at best, and although she knew it would be on the front page of the next issue, she wanted to give me a heads-up.

     This week, Sanders told our Ray Dane that she sent the letter “because I just want to be open and forthcoming with the public, and anytime there is a concern that can cause a problem or worry, I just want them to be alerted to it.”

     Stop the presses! We have in our midst a public official who wants to be “forthcoming with the public,” including the editor of the local newspaper.

     Whoever heard of such a thing?

     Well, you know how the media is. I later posted the news on our Facebook page. Almost immediately, the post drew the following comment: “STOP FREAKING OUT THE PUBLIC!”

     I don’t know who was freaking out the public: The newspaper for posting the news or Sanders by disseminating it. Either way, it was the right thing to do.

     People deserve to know about anything that might affect their health and well-being. Information is power, and people should have the power to make their own decisions.

     Every day, we read in the newspaper or hear on TV about some government official who refuses to comment on an important issue. Often, it’s a “spokesman” who has been sent out to ward off the press. Just as often, it’s an elected official who refuses to answer the question.

     The trend today is for government to hide as much as possible from the public. Virtually every government agency has a hired gun to control the press. And virtually every watchdog group has branded the Obama administration as the worst in history about withholding information.

     It’s a tired phrase, but people have the right to know.

     So kudos to Debby Sanders for growing in her job and informing the public about this important issue, whether people got freaked out or not.

 

     David Lewis is editor and publisher of The Post-Signal. He welcomes comments at editor@postsignal.com, or drop a letter in the mail to Box 249, Pilot Point TX 76258.