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Openness on Local Government Day

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Two interesting moments converge on Monday when Person County commissioners will gather for their twice-yearly Local Government Day meeting.

In the audience will be a host of students from area schools, who will have a few minutes to sit in on the business of their government. Yes, they will spend more time hearing lectures about participating in government than they will listening to that government in action.

But one thing they might get to hear is something no one got to hear the last time around.

And that brings us to the second moment that will take place. County commissioners intend to interview – in open session – candidates for seats on the Economic Development Commission. The last time commissioners interviewed for vacancies on that board, they shut the public out, making a ridiculous claim that the interviews fell outside the open meetings law.

This time, however, it seems wiser heads may prevail and the interviews will take place in the light of day – just two days after the end of Sunshine Week, which is intended to make the case for open government. That’s how it should be.

The interviews scheduled for Monday are expected to be much less critical than the previous set. No one expects the kind of seismic shift in economic development philosophy that was anticipated after the last round of interviews.

Still, the idea of interviewing candidates for public appointment in public, is a win for the people who have to live with the decisions that body makes in its deliberations.

That will be a really good lesson for the students who are present to observe their government that day.

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