The opponents of wind energy in Howard County may turn some people off as reactionary or extreme, but they did raise a good point last week; one which Howard County government will not accept easily. For all of their insistences that county government is the most transparent of local governments, county officials cannot escape the fact that they’re crowing about clearing a rather low bar.
And sometimes, they trip over that bar pretty hard.
The windmill opponents detailed this easily enough on June 3 when local dairy farmer Grace April explained that hearings on the abatement for the windmill project weren’t announced as part of the meeting agendas for the Howard County Commissioners and Howard County Council last year.
She was right. If a person wanted to protest wind energy a year ago, they would have had to blanket each meeting, hoping that they attended on the right date. The reality is that this type of omission is more common than anyone would like to accept.
A similar occurrence took place last summer with the county’s annual budget session. The original start date for the budget hearings was moved by a day, and the notice for this wasn’t uniformly posted. A person wanting to observe this first session would have had to comb the legal advertisements to know of the date change – an inefficient practice limited by extremely low circulation. And the information isn’t free by this method, either.
Of course, the most egregious example of the county avoiding public scrutiny takes place with the commissioners’ administrative sessions, which are not advertised at all. The public specifically isn’t welcome, yet the commissioners aren’t closing the door in executive session, either. It is a no man’s land of a public meeting.
When the Perspective pointed out this practice last year, the commissioners agreed to at least notify the media when the meetings took place. This agreement has gone unfulfilled by our “transparent” county officials.
Are county fathers hiding something in these instances? One would like to believe that it is simple oversight or negligence, though it is doubtful that the angry windmill opponents are in a frame of mind to accept such an excuse.
At the least, Howard County owes its citizens an apology for this, but don’t expect one anytime soon. Perhaps we will have to make due with a little notice next time.
|Wind Watch relies entirely
on User Funding