North Texas Daily

Let’s get a little bit more transparency in local government

Let’s get a little bit more transparency in local government

January 29
16:49 2016

The Editorial Board

Denton is undoubtedly a leader in cities that rank as most environmentally conscious around the country, a distinction that requires 40 percent of all energy to be renewable and generated through wind power in the county.

It is admirable of our leaders to want to support the area’s green movement even further by adopting a new renewable energy plan. We just wish they had given us all a proper heads-up prior to making the decision.

We elect these people to guide us in the direction we feel we need to go. We feel important while we are signing the ballot, but then our focus on local politics and community tends to fall by the wayside as we go back into our routines and forget about the issues at hand. We cannot complain when our elected officials make decisions we do not like if we do not participate in the political process.

That means having to TiVo that new episode of “Shark Tank” and heading to the local city council meeting. It means calling the mayor’s office during your lunch break to ask a question or voice a concern. It means giving a hoot about what’s happening.

There are plenty of problems surrounding Denton’s new renewable energy plan. Namely, it was passed without any semblance of transparency. Information on the proposal was circulated to residents only once it had been passed, which could be taken from the fact that this is the first piece drafted by those of us at North Texas Daily on the subject (aside from the news story in print this week.) A postcard on local doorsteps isn’t all that informative and claims of press mean nothing unless we know about it. In that regard, we are the press, and we had no idea.

Secondly, it has come to light that although the initiative would drive Denton toward a whopping 70 percent in terms of renewable energy, new gas plants would be built for use in the “downtime” of the cleaner methods. While being entirely dependent on renewable energy is not possible due to its reliance on permitting weather in a state with a sometimes unpredictable climate, we have to wonder what motivations our leaders had for choosing gas over other forms of stable energy supply.

The question of legitimacy arises from the fact that the council approved the measure once an in-house study was done on the environmental and financial impacts of the plan now through 2019. For obvious reasons it would suit those making the decision to have someone closer to the vest carving out the results as opposed to an independent surveyor whose results might be less-than-optimistic.

We cannot call for the action and responsibility of officials if we do nothing about it.

We have to be engaged in our community and demand transparency from those who represent us, just as they would do well to make it easier for their constituents to plug-in politically.

They say it’s time for change? We have to do something about it.

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