As summer approaches, I begin to think about relaxing on a hot summer day with a good book to read. I enjoy reading all types of books from biographies to historical fiction, but I can never say no to a good mystery. The intrigue, the secrets, and the elusive nature of who-did-what, never fails to capture my attention. So, what makes a good mystery? The facts are elusive, someone is hiding something, and the truth seems unattainable. Yes, that is the recipe for a real page-turner.
But what makes for a good mystery doesn’t work for government.
Government – at all levels – should be responsive to the needs of the public. Municipalities in Pennsylvania have immense power over how you live, work, and play. As local governments are the closest to the people being served, it is essential that they are aware of, and responsive to, community needs.
So, what are some simple steps that public officials can take?
Low hanging fruit includes sharing important community information by regularly updating the municipal website, making sure the municipal building is welcoming and accessible to all, and even changing the font size on printed materials. These actions are all best practices that should be the standard across our municipalities.
However, I challenge municipalities and our public officials to exceed the standard and become the benchmark.
First, commit to transparency. Establishing transparency in government is a step towards good governance. The International City /County Management Association states that “Transparency is a fundamental element of abolishing corruption”. Abolishing corruption? Now we are talking!
Second, public officials should commit to serving in an ethical manner. Not only should they hold themselves to a higher standard, but the law requires it. The Pennsylvania Public Official and Employee Ethics Act requires the filing of financial disclosures for government officials at the local, county, and state level. It also sets standards for evaluating the actions of public officials and public employees. Check out the Pennsylvania Public Official and Employee Ethics Act, which was established to enforce the Ethics Act, for more information.
During voting season, and all year around, hold your elected officials accountable to good government by asking them to make a commitment to continual learning. Make sure they know that Local Government Academy is the go-to source for fact-based education on matters relevant to Pennsylvania municipalities. In the meantime, we will continue to provide non-partisan training that will elevate the standard of governing to achieve Excellence in Local Government in all our communities.
Want to join me? Contact [email protected] to learn more.