Viewpoint: Commission talks should be public

Last week, the Mitchell County Commission voted to privatize the county's Emergency Medical Service and lay off six employees.

It was a controversial proposal you would expect a lot people in the community talking would have been talking about. They weren't, because they didn't know anything about it until it was a done deal.

Commission Chairman Benjamin Hayward admitted the county intentionally kept the issue from the public until they had all the details worked out and were ready to vote on it. Here's how he defended that decision.

"Well anytime you make moves, you need to keep it inside within the people that are in charge until you get your move made because you don't want to put out the wrong information. If the county commissioners wouldn't have voted for it, it wouldn't have gone into effect anyways. So, to stop rumors, it's best to just do everything and just wait until you get the votes that you need, go ahead and do it, then announce it."

Privatizing Mitchell County EMS may be a smart decision. County leaders say it will save up to 400-thousand dollars a year without impacting service. But if they're so convinced, it's the right thing to do, why hide it from the public?

Elected officials should never shy away from getting input from the people they represent before making an important decision. Open government is good government. Elected leaders who don't realize that shouldn't be elected again.