Thanks to those who have contributed to this site. The comments are thoughtful and even informational. I’m pleasantly surprised that there appears to be a silent subset of this community that sees the same things I see and has similar concerns.
I’m working on setting up an email account so that people have a way to share information. Editorial writing is always better when it contains reporting, so if I’m able to credibly report information, that’s something I want to make a part of the site with your contributions.
We’re far from getting all of the stories on the site. If you can think of a story you’d like to see, leave a message in the comments. Chances are it’s already on my list, but you never know. Public officials and public issues only.
So what’s the point of all of this? I hope readers pick up on a few things:
Our public officials do things they shouldn’t do at an alarming rate. If you look at the examples as a whole, there’s a pattern. Some of it’s illegal and otherwise an ethical violation of this or that, and other conduct is just shady.
When shady things happen, accountability is often lacking More than once, officials have tried to cover things up or downplay the severity of bad actions. In my opinion, Grand Traverse seems so isolated from the rest of the state that self-preservation, disparate treatment and our-way-not-the-right-way can rule the day.
The local media is supposed to serve as the watchdog of our public officials. But too often, the media can’t get past the government’s press release to ask the right questions. Whether it’s intended to paint a rosy picture of things for our tourist-dependent community or whether it’s because today’s journalism students often aren’t cross-trained with enough depth in other subject areas to think of the questions to ask, I don’t feel the local media does a good enough job of presenting the issues from all sides with critical questions for government officials. It’s the public that loses.
But today, we have a voice. We can ask the interesting questions ourselves, even if we don’t get answers. The media is no longer the gatekeeper for the public. Today, anyone with a message can speak without having to kiss a brass ring.
Maybe, just maybe, accountability will make our government officials just a little bit better.