The very fact that so much in politics is done in the dark, behind closed doors, promotes suspicion. Everybody knows that corruption thrives in secret places, and avoids public places, and we believe it a fair presumption that secrecy means impropriety.
Sill was pimping the N&O's North Carolina Open Government Coalition conference today at Elon College. I'm for open. I don't trust much done in secret. But in some cases, North Carolina law allows for private meetings. In her column Sill refers to our own Caldwell County's Google negotiations:
We need more attention paid in our state to decisions made in secret involving public agencies and money. Case in point: The Google deal.
To recap, Google recently won tax incentives worth up to $260 million over 30 years in exchange for building a 200-job computer center in western North Carolina. State and local officials negotiated the deal behind closed doors under exemptions to the North Carolina Open Meetings Law.
The N&O's Jonathan B. Cox obtained public records as soon as they were available and told people what Google sought and gained and how the incentives stacked up.
Some North Carolinians think the Google incentives were necessary and agree with negotiating the deal secretly. Others find either the incentives or the private negotiations outrageous.
So, someone from Caldwell County let us know what Caldwell residents think of these secret meetings. Were they appropriate and useful or did they just provide for a situation under which local officials could sell the farm without public input or comment?