New rules will give agency transparency
April 26, 2005
The success of the American experiment can be boiled down to a few simple philosophical tenets: among them, that our representatives serve at the will of the people; that every citizen is given fair and equal access and consideration under the Constitution, and that government operates in an open and transparent way.
The Tahoe Regional Planning Agency is scheduled today to consider rules changes that will bring it closer in line with these philosophies that guide good government. If passed, the change will require governing board members to disclose the existence and content of communications with members of the public outside of a board meeting when the contact relates to a matter the board is set to vote on.
The change is based on concerns raised last year after a governing board member attended a TRPA staff meeting in the company of a project applicant. If such contact is a regular occurrence, it may compromise the transparency of the TRPA process – the more open the TRPA is about the way it conducts business, the more trust Lake Tahoe residents will have in the validity of its decisions.
The proposed change was also suggested as part of an audit of the agency completed last year.
A high standard should exist for TRPA because it lacks the certain types of accountability that other government agencies inherently have, namely elected officials whose jobs can be yanked at the will of the people over whom it governs. As it stands, TRPA is run by appointed officials, a structure that invites criticism.
Applicants should also feel certain that proposed projects are not getting special consideration. Equal access to the process is important, especially in an area as sensitive as TRPA governance.
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With new rules that ensure a new level of accountability, we can feel more confident the TRPA is serving the people’s will. It is, after all, the American way.
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