Many public officials are in denial about how their own actions and non-cooperation add to the public’s mistrust of government and even disgust of government.
Public officials adopt either a public servant’s I’m-here-to-help attitude or a self-serving I-don’t-want-to-bother attitude.
I asked former Huntley 158 School Board member Larry Snow if he had seen a copy of the recently negotiated contract with the support worker’s union (HESPA).
It is before the Huntley Board of Education to be voted on.
Snow looked online in Huntley’s board packet and wasn’t able to find it. He volunteered to ask Supt. John Burkey for a copy of the contract. I said, “Sure.”
Snow negotiated the last contract with HESPA along with Burkey and Shawn Green.
While Snow was on the board there wasn’t another board member who put in more time getting the district financially on track and getting its accounting reported correctly.
In other words, Snow put in thousands of hours helping the district keep the district solvent.
Let’s see how helpful as a public servant Burkey was.
Here is Snow’s email to Supt. Burkey and above, Burkey’s response:
Subject: Re: BOE Agenda 8-19-10
From: Burkey, John
Date: 8-17-10 5:29 pm
To: Larry Snow
Burkey, John wrote:
I cannot email it now as it is not a public document until after the
Board approves it. It will be online after that.
From: Larry Snow [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]
Sent: Monday, August 16, 2010 7:40 PM
To: Burkey, John
Cc: Fettes, Naomi
Subject: Re: BOE Agenda 8-19-10
Can you email me a copy of the HESPA contract that will be voted on at
the board meeting?
That’s pretty close to what I asked for myself and the reply I received from Public Information Offier Lori Woods.
While Burkey writes how he “cannot,” there is no legal prohibition preventing Burkey from providing the information because it is not a public document.
It is a decision on Burkey’s part how he “won’t.”
He can, but simply “won’t.”
While the proposed teachers’ contract was available on the internet on the District 158 web site, the support workers’ contract is not.
It’s a deliberate choice to switch from transparency to secretiveness.
Some superintendents choose to be uncooperative, as Burkey has, while insisting that residents and parents be cooperative.
Such unresponsive and uncooperative government is, frankly, unworthy of local government.
Cooperation on small matters or lack thereof turns people off.
Stakes are much higher in the national arena where the public’s trust is eroding in President Barack Obama. As a candidate he promised his would be the most transparent government.
He would not receive a passing grade on that subject today.
The choice in December is to sweep Illinois Dems out of office, not to save our country, but to definitely help save ourselves from unresponsive people in government positions of authority.
I understand plenty of union members have a copy of the contract, so why won’t the administration share copies with Snow and me?
If the district can post the last teachers’ contract online before it was voted on, as it did, it should matter of factly include the HESPA contract in the online board packet where it could be seen by taxpayers.
Putting that packet online before meetings puts District 158 out in front of most local governments, after all.
But, the District 158 board and superintendent can hardly brag about transparency when they won’t post the contract until it is too late for public input.
And won’t send out copies when requested.