NORWICH – Openness in government is essential to the way that any city, town, county or country is run. When it comes to the City of Norwich, government officials and citizens in the community may have different ideas about just how accessible local politics are.
“It is essential to the maintenance of a democratic society that the public business be performed in an open and public manner,” the Sunshine Law states. Although most city officials think the government is accessible to the public, some residents of the city do not believe that things are as open as they could be.
“I think we’re very open,” said Fifth Ward Alderman Paul Laughlin. “People only show up when something is on the agenda that is important to their personal interest. If nothing’s going on like that, they don’t show up.” Laughlin said the city officials do what they can to remain open and accessible to the public, but people cannot know everything that is going on if they do not attend the meetings.
“It (city government) should be a lot more open and accessible,” said former mayoral candidate Mike Carnrike. Carnrike takes issue with the way city meetings are set up. “Emphasis is put on attending the meetings, but even if you do, you won’t know the details of what is going on,” Carnrike said. Carnrike feels that meeting agendas and minutes should be posted in an accessible place, so that people are able to stay informed, even when they cannot attend the meetings. Carnrike explained that many people’s lives do not allow the extra time necessary to attend weekly governmental meetings.