In search of transparency in government

Reporter should be city’s official newspaper

Transparency in government is the spotlight that gives voters insight into internal government activities that must not be hidden from constituency visibility nor mired in secrecy. Does our city’s elected hold too many secrets not shared with its voters? Numerous executive council sessions suggest that’s so.

There are many examples but let’s examine a recent case that establishes the Hazelnut Flyer as the official newspaper for city news and abandons the Tukwila Reporter without any apparent presentation to the community/voter. The Hazelnut is a city instrument written by, reviewed by and published by the city by which council, mayor and city activities will be reported (or not) to and mailed to Tukwila residents. Does this represent the abandonment of transparency of city, council and mayor activities when it’s controlled in totality by the city and its representatives. Many of us thought the Hazelnut was dead and it was several years ago but was reestablished on a limited basis by the council over two years ago and presents a rehash of what is old news a couple of times annually.

Our elected led us with a promise to build public safety structures in out city for $77 million dollars. Did they know ahead of time the costs would be much higher than the $77 million? Now we have learned that the total cost of which will be approximately twice that amount and our elected have not been clear on how that was allowed to happen nor how the added costs will be paid, most likely via a much longer period of debt which means we pay and pay for a long time with taxes that are already too high. Where is the transparency we expect and must demand of our elected and where is the fiduciary responsibility we thought we were voting for?

A local independent newspaper is crucial to our city and elected government to present city news and the viable health of our city but the city controlled Hazelnut could fail to present the unbiased facts one expects to read in an independent newspaper.

Our upcoming city’s election this year should be a referendum on the policies of our existing elected officials and their specific detailed promises of where they intend to take our city and the latter must also be presented by new candidates for city offices. We must have absolute transparency, currently somewhat absent, of our elected and a clear statement of fiduciary responsibility.

The Hazelnut is stated to be published six times yearly not 12 like the Tukwila Reporter with the claim it will get the city’s message out in more detail. Less is more? Seems like an oxymoron. If the city is really wanting to get its message out it will stick with the Tukwila Reporter and institute questionnaire mailers to involve all city residents in guiding city polices and laws before they are passed and report the results in the Reporter, not the Hazelnut, and not rely on the maybe three percent of residents touched by its city outreach efforts.

After all, it was the council that resurrected the Hazelnut over two years ago, therefore, the council should act on this policy change that expands the Hazelnut’s use and severs city ties to the Tukwila Reporter. However, over the past three years our go along to get along council has individually cast very few (maybe 10 to 20) no votes and hundreds if not thousands of yes votes, so to expect it will act on this issue is a gigantic leap of faith.

Like the typewriter, the Hazelnut is out dated by need and methodology and should be abandoned and those resources dedicated to its publication, used on questionnaire mailers and the support of the Tukwila Reporter. Our elected can, should and must do better.

Bill Holstine



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