Viewpoint: Public hiring should be in the open

Many local governments throughout south Georgia continue to try to hide information from you that you have a right to know.

When governments hire for jobs such as school superintendent or city manager, they're supposed to release the names of three finalists so that the media and the public can examine the candidates' qualifications and backgrounds before someone is hired.

But the Georgia law is just vague enough that leaders almost always find a way around it.

You may remember media outlets had to sue to force the Dougherty County School System to release the names of superintendent finalists this year. More recently, when Albany city leaders narrowed the list of candidates for downtown manager, they claimed they weren't officially finalists because they were still doing background checks.

When it came down to it, they did at least release the names of two finalists.

In the search for a Civic Center director, the city picked two finalists. When one of them found out he wasn't the top choice he withdrew before his name was released. The top candidate then decided he didn't want the job after his name came out.

Now, the whole process has to start over from scratch. That's ridiculous.

Local leaders should let applicants know from the beginning, if they're lucky enough to be one of three finalists, they're name will be made public. After two weeks, one of them will be offered. If that person says no, there will still be two other candidates to choose from.

That's the way the system is supposed to work. If local government leaders won't follow those rules, the state should put more teeth into the law to force them to.