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Originally published: 2013-09-30 10:50:25
Last modified: 2013-09-30 10:51:10

Our View: Full disclosure begins with full communication

Not one, but two important community issues this week again highlight a depressing and costly lack of communication between our governmental leaders - with the depression and cost falling squarely on the backs of the residents for who those leaders work.

Issue No. 1: A battle festering since 2011 between Boone and Watauga County concerns extraterritorial jurisdiction appointments, specifically, debate about the wording of the town's Unified Development Ordinance, which, with state statutes, sets the rules for those appointments.

Today, the town and county are still at odds, both claiming a different interpretation of UDO changes made two years ago. The result: a stalemate highlighted by Boone's refusal to accept two recent county appointees, and the possible removal of a third active county appointee from the ETJ, to town boards based on what council members say were procedural errors made by county commissioners.

Issue No. 2: A Boone Water Use Committee meeting that spotlighted not only frustration on the part of several committee members and a lack of forthright information concerning a water intake project, but admissions from committee members that they have too little information to make a recommendation on that project - a project secured by a $25 million  bond referendum green-lighted by Boone voters in 2008.

At best, these examples highlight ineffective leadership at myriad levels and the inability to communicate on issues that affect both town and county residents. At worst, as with the water intake project, spotlighted by Public Utilities Department Director Rick Miller's comments that transparency could provide challenges to that project, is an intent to purposely withhold information from not only the public, but apparently committee members tasked with providing recommendations.

We accept that some infrastructure and other projects may be irreparably harmed by disclosing certain information too early in the project history.

But we do not accept a lack of information, especially from its own players, on a project that has been under way since 2008 and is now anticipated to top its $25 million budget; or on the semantics of a document updated years ago.

No community is served best when its leaders willfully or otherwise obstruct the path to information.
We entrust those in positions of leadership with the best interest of our community. Those interests begin with full communication.