Our Opinion: Honesty is foundation for public trust
Monday, September 30, 2013
Truth and trust are the enemies of rumor and innuendo.
Two stories in Sunday’s edition explored some of the common public misconceptions about the operations, priorities and goals of Jefferson City’s government officials.
Reactions from City Council members indicate they know the way to debunk myths is through communication, sharing and openness.
This is what needs to be done on a consistent and continuing basis to build and maintain public trust.
When the public perceives government officials are trying to conceal errors or apply positive spin, public trust wanes. As a consequence, hidden agendas are suspected and myths are created.
City government has been going through rough times. Among them:
• A budget shortfall has required some cutbacks.
• A number of department heads have retired or been fired. Interim leaders now serve as city administrator and lead the fire, public works and finance departments.
• A city priority, attracting a conference center, has generated debate and divisiveness, which has escalated into formation of organized opposition.
City officials must acknowledge problems, reveal the conditions that caused them and their plans to solve them.
Public relations efforts and attempts to divert attention to the positive do not build public confidence.
We’re not revealing any secret. This concept is as old as the adage that honesty is the best policy.
Public service is a demanding job that is even more demanding when public trust is eroded. That’s why truth always is the best public policy.
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