Monday, August 6, 2018

What is township government?

There are many times that I talk to voters and they have no idea that township government even exists, confusing it with city council or county council. This is one of the reasons I am running, to increase visibility of township government, make sure voters know what the township is doing and how the township is spending our tax money.

Monroe County has 11 townships. Imagine the county is sliced into twelve segments - three townships east-west and four townships north-south. (One of the townships is the geographical size of two townships, which is why we have 11 instead of 12.) Each township has four elected officials - a township trustee who acts as administrator, and a township advisory board that approves the budget and advises the trustee.

So why should you care what township government does? Perry Township spends $1.1 million dollars a year. According to IFIOnline.org, Perry Township government spent $1,109,989.17 in 2017. That is a large sum of money, and we need to make sure we are watching what township government is doing. The money involved is why my first campaign statement was to increase transparency by making sure all agendas are posted online and that meetings are held after the work day is over so taxpayers can attend. With that much money, there is simply no excuse not to go above and beyond the minimum legal requirements of transparency.

So what does township government do? Primarily, Perry Township provides social services. If you are about to be evicted from your apartment, if you are homeless, if you are about to have your electricity turned off, or if you have a financial emergency, the Perry Township Trustee is where you can go for help. Perry Township assistance is not an "entitlement" program, as benefits do not continue automatically. The township provides emergency assistance and points people where they can get ongoing help.

Township government also mows overgrown vegetation, resolves fence line disputes and maintains abandoned cemeteries.

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Democrats do not take full transparency seriously

The testy, defensive reaction of the Perry Township trustee to my press release in Herald-Times comments demonstrates that Democrats simply cannot be trusted to bring transparency into the 21st Century. Posting a paper copy at the township office is just not good enough. This is 2018, not 1995.

The incumbent Democrat trustee claims that the meeting notices fulfill the legal requirements for notifying the public. I do not doubt that is the case, but complying with the law's minimum requirements is not enough when there is more than can be done to increase exposure of what township government is doing to the people who are paying the bills. There is no substantive argument against my proposal for more transparency.

I am disappointed that the incumbent Democrat trustee resorted to dishonesty in his response, asking if I am "a candidate with complaints and no plan." This was in response to a press release in which I identified a problem and proposed a solution to the problem. I have a plan to increase transparency. The incumbent Democrat trustee is satisfied with the minimum requirements of the law.

The incumbent Democrat trustee was also disingenuous when responding to my point about meeting times. I pointed out that township board meetings take place during the work day, which is true according to the township's own website. The incumbent Democrat trustee claimed what I said was "simply untrue" and then admitted my point when he said that the the meetings start between 4:15 and 4:30. This is during a normal 8 to 5 work day, which would require a taxpayer to take time off work to attend. That is an elitist response that does not indicate concern for transparency or allowing taxpayers to attend meetings.

This is not a new issue for me. I called for later meeting times for city government boards and commissions in 2015. I had a guest column in the Herald-Times calling on the county commissioners to move meetings - especially the biweekly county commissioners' meetings - to after the end of the work day so taxpayers can attend the meetings to see what our employees our doing. That is exactly what city, county and township elected officials are: Our employees. They should make it easy for their employers to see what they are doing.

It is not 1995 any more. It is time for township government to move into 2018. That means everything the township does should be online - especially meeting times and agendas. That is what I have pledged to do if I am elected. If the Democrats took this issue seriously they would have fixed it years ago.

Monday, July 9, 2018

Monday, July 2, 2018

Transparency needed in township government

The primary reason I am running for a seat on the Perry Township Board is that township government operates almost entirely in the dark. The newspaper rarely covers township government unless there is a major scandal, and the public almost never attends their meetings. When you have a unit of government that is spending over one million dollars a year and has been under one-party control for decades, that is something that needs to change.

That starts with the township's online presence. The last meeting minutes was February 16, 2017, though there have been many meetings since then. Unlike city and county government, there are no meeting agendas online for the township board. So if you are a citizen in Perry Township and you want to follow what your township government is doing, you cannot do that through the township board's website.

In the age of social media, there is simply no excuse for this. Meeting agendas can easily be posted to Facebook, Twitter or other sites. There are many sites that will convert a PDF to an image file for free, to make viewing it even easier, especially on a mobile phone or tablet. A Facebook or Twitter feed can easily be updated to let the public know when and where a meeting will be, along with a scan of the agenda.

It is never good when a unit of government operates out of the public eye. If I am elected to the township board, all of this information will be online. If the township office itself will not do it, then I will do it myself. If you believe in transparency, vote for Scott Tibbs for Perry Township Board!

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Republican Party Caucus

I was officially added to the ballot by the Monroe County Republican Party tonight.

I am looking forward to the campaign and presenting another option for the people of Perry Township.