Sunshine, long overdue
Some will remember that this was not the first time Sullivan County’s tourism promotion has been discussed in private. In January, when Democratic legislators first put forward their proposal to call for RFPs, Republican lawmakers complained that the plan was hatched behind closed doors in the Democratic caucus. It didn’t take long for some people to wonder if cronyism was at work when it was revealed that three principals of the new SCTP were prominent county Democrats. Furthermore, there was the matter of timing; SCTP had only days before registered with the county as a non-profit business. At that time, The River Reporter raised the issue of appearances: “The decision to put the RFP out now [makes it] look like it could be a back-room deal, even if it’s not,” and we concluded, “Because there is frequently no way to distinguish between cases in which it only looks like there is a conflict of interest and when there is a real one, the only way to avoid them is to avoid even appearances.”
Our opinion has not changed.
For a couple of days last week it seemed that the troubling issue of restricted public access to information about Sullivan County’s taxpayer-financed tourism promotion business was going to repeat itself, but then something changed.
Notwithstanding unanswered questions about what motivated this most recent closed meeting and the legislature’s change of heart, the legislature finally did the right thing on Friday when it announced that there would be an open public meeting on Tuesday, October 30 for the two organizations to make their presentations again. It will be the first public opportunity for people to learn more about SCTP of which so little is known—thanks in no small part to closed-door government meetings.
This will be the first chance for some sunshine to get into the process.
It will be welcome.
[See companion news story]