This poor, poor Charlotte city attorney, burdened by transparency, laments the types of information requests his department receives:
McCarley said Charlotte officials had no objection to requests like The Charlotte Observer’s standing request for all e-mails and paper correspondence sent or received by Mayor Pat McCrory, City Manager Curt Walton and two city department heads. He then read a list of "the other kind" of public records requests: "Disgruntled, unsuccessful bidders wanting to know everything about a bid process and the other people in it, bloggers wanting information for their shots at the government, the alternative press who has no particular sense of reasonableness in what they ask for, the gadflies and the Libertarians who will admit to you they are looking to bog down government, potential litigants shopping for a claim, political opponents of current officials, and then the idly curious."
Hmm, are bidding processes closed (it’s certainly not unusual for some N.C. contracts to be ol’ boy relationships)? Are bloggers just a nuisance? What, pray tell, distinguishes the alternative press from the mainstream press–and what constitutes a reasonable request? Wouldn’t more gadflies have prevented that abomination-on-tracks from being built in Charlotte at the expense of taxpayers who’ll never, ever use it? Don’t political opponents need information to make the case that they’d be better in the job? Is the curious citizen not an engaged rather than an idle one–or should civic life be left to our minders because they know what’s best for us?
The above-quoted list may all seem like cases of annoyance to a bureaucrat who believes he and his pals raison d’etre is to dream up ways to spend your money and control your affairs. But if the government bureaucrat shirks his responsibility to be open because it is inconvenient, he has forgotten his real reason-to-exist: to serve the people who put him there. That service comes with all the inconvenience of dealing with the hoi polloi. Once you, gentle reader, wipe those crocodile tears from your face, remember that Mac McCarley is one of the many functionaries who earns a government paycheck to serve you — not to ensure his work is hassle-free. Transparency is his duty.