Transparency should start now

At the end of Wednesday night’s Madera City Council meeting on city administrative salaries the council and City Attorney Brent Richardson began laying plans for a secret meeting, aka “closed session,” to talk to applicants for city administrator of Madera.

Here’s a plea, city council. Change your ways.

Hold those meetings in public.

Yes, I know, some applicants might not want it known that they are looking for other jobs, but here are some facts:

Top management personnel in government are always looking for better jobs, either because they want to better themselves or have just been fired, or are about to be fired. That is a fact of life in that business — city managers usually have short terms in office before they run afoul of a council member who doesn’t like them, or a problem they can’t solve. Six years is about the average amount of time city managers spend in a job before they leave for another. It is the nature of the work.

Or, they hear about a dream job they want, and head that way.

Some governments hardly ever hold closed sessions, and that is a good policy to have, especially when the public sees such meetings as a way to govern in secret.

The mayor and council have vowed over and over again to be “transparent” in government from now on. The way to do that would be to interview the candidates for that important office in open meetings in a forum that allows council members and city employees to ask questions, and then allows the public to chime in.

If someone says he or she won’t apply unless they are able to apply in secret, they are not the ones you want to waste your time interviewing in the first place.

I have seen public interviews of important employees conducted, and they work out very well. They get to see the cut of your jib, and you get to see the cut of theirs.

Keep your word to the public. Be transparent. Let the candidates for the job interview in public. Let them get to know Maderans and vice versa.