Opinion | View From the Right: Transparency dispels falsehoods. Why stop it?
To have productive conversations about controversial topics, citizens have a right to open meetings, data and government
By Eric Drzewiecki
Most of us have heard stories about an unfortunate “reply all email” or a cell phone left unguarded – stories that tell of great betrayal, or great embarrassment.
In my life, I experienced such a situation when a disgruntled coworker forwarded an insulting email to multiple people behind my back. Without looking, the disgruntled coworker included me on an email chain of brutal insults and unprofessional ranting.
The realization of the truth – that my coworker hated my guts and was open to belittling me to others – gave me the information needed to handle my professional life differently than if that truth was hidden from me. The opposite has also happened where someone praised me behind my back, only for it to come back to me. In both cases, the knowledge of the truth changed me.
That’s the funny thing about truth – knowing it helps.
Recently in Northeastern Wisconsin, there is a growing clamor for increased transparency regarding education and elections. While some of the motives for these calls leave me a bit befuddled, they are nonetheless the right steps forward for Wisconsin.
Locally, the Green Bay City Council has sparked minor controversy by using closed sessions to discuss election matters. These closed sessions include the decision to partner with left-leaning/progressive law firms to work with the city regarding election disputes.
“I will continue to vote no on entering into closed session while this election investigation issue continues,” City Council President Jesse Brunnete said in an October Facebook post. “I believe these discussions should be in view of the public, under public scrutiny, to whom this city government belongs.”
Don’t get me wrong— I am tired of the “Stop the Steal” grievances. But, our government does itself no favors when it deliberates about the previous election behind a veil of secrecy in closed session. Even those (like me) who staunchly believe that the 2020 election was fair have to scratch our collective heads at the lack of transparency around the council’s response.
I cannot fathom how openly holding a light on what happened in the election is somehow worse than the misinformation touted by so-called election inspectors like When the public is not afforded this transparency, speculation and hyperbole run amok.
Similarly, the growing national trend of viral videos showing abhorrent teacher-to-student behavior has sparked cries at the local level to block Critical Race Theory (CRT) from being taught to children in our public schools.
Of course, what Critical Race Theory means to a Democrat or a Republican has virtually no overlap. Democrats will suggest it’s merely teaching the history of racism in the United States. Republicans will argue that CRT is nothing more than demonizing white children for being white. As usual, neither is an accurate descriptor, and CRT has become a proxy battle of right-versus-left in the classroom.
Thankfully, instead of blindly engaging in pointless debates about what might or might not be taught in schools, we can require full disclosure of what is being taught in our schools.
No doubt the majority of public instruction is unobjectionable. As such, there really should be no good reason to oppose transparency. Parents want their children to learn about the evils of racism. But they deserve to know the tactics that are employed to teach such sensitive materials, and they deserve to know if partisan theories are being injected into otherwise legitimate history lessons. When a parent questions their child about who they’ve been texting all night and asks to see their child’s phone, nothing sparks suspicion more than when the child refuses.
I have no doubts that some would like to weaponize transparency. But a free society is only possible when it remains an open society – and the availability of truth and facts is essential to both good journalism and those of us looking to continue this great American experiment. In that light, the efforts by local officials to defend a system of opaqueness flies in the face of everything we know to represent good democracy.
Eric Drzewiecki is a lifelong resident of Brown County. He earned a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay and currently serves on the Astor Neighborhood Association Board, the Green Bay Board of Review, and is a youth leader at a local Green Bay church. He can be reached by email: [email protected]
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