Wednesday, March 31, 2010


The Repository's proposal to put Stark's citizens in touch with Stark County departments/agencies of government:  a good idea?

It depends.

Here is the proposal as extracted from the editorial making it:

• Set up a Web site, and post the report on each department’s operations as it is finished.

• Ask visitors to the site if they have any questions — trust us, they will — and answer them online.

• After officeholders get the recommendations, they should update the public via the Web site as changes are made.

Here is the SCPR analysis:

First, the questions need to be published whether they get answered or not.  A prime value in the implementation of this proposal is to learn which questions are too embarrassing for department heads to deal with.

Second, the question/answer format must allow for a "thread-like" follow up between the questioner and the person (fully identified) answering.  Otherwise, answers are likely to be of the cherry-picked variety (i.e. - answer what I am comfortable with) and then cut the answer off.  The questioner ought to have the opportunity to pursue the Q&A until (within reason) he/she gets a satisfactory answer.

Third, the website should stay open as a permanent, continuing mechanism for Stark County citizens to hold officeholders accountable in public view.

If The Repository's idea gets implemented along the lines suggested by The Report, then the idea will be a workable one that has credibility with the Stark County public.

However, if it is filtered, censored and managed and only for the duration of the citizen review committee cycle, then it will have the touch and feel of having been a journalistic gimmick.

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