LETTER: Department heads should give regular reports
The following is a letter to the editor submitted to the Park Rapids Enterprise by a reader. It does not necessarily reflect the views of the Park Rapids Enterprise. To submit a letter, email email@example.com or mail it to Park Rapids Enterprise, 1011 1st. ST. E., Suite 6, Park Rapids, MN 56470.
Thank you, Robin Fish, for the provocative question: “Should Park Rapids department heads make regular reports?”
Also, thank you for informing us of your experience in Nevis and Menahga “and two small cities in Missouri” and your inquiring about the practice in other cities, small and great.
The First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution guarantees that I can freely worship Jesus as my Savior and God. Then follows freedom of speech and “the press” and “the right of the people peaceably to assemble and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.” How can “we the people” petition for a redress of grievances when we don’t know what our “public servants” are doing?
When “the people” are unable to witness our government at work (or not), we rely on “the press” to inform us. The news media is called “the fourth branch of government” or “the fourth estate” because they are supposed to be an additional “check and balance” on the other three branches – executive, legislative, and judicial. We the people expect the press not to be a mouthpiece for government entities and their agents that are controlling the official narrative. (Is that a pipe dream in today’s cancel culture?)
You think rightly that “taxpayers, who fund the wages of city officials, want to know where their money is going and whether their public servants are really serving them.” I agree that the city council should “be interested in at least a brief account of how (and what) each department is doing, not just when they need funds for a big purchase.”
How can taxpayers – and voters who elected the city officials – be informed if department heads say “no report” in response to being “asked if they want to address the council”? Does “no report” mean that the department personnel did no work on anything?
While employed at an industrial firm, I had to justify my work hours by recording project codes on my time card. Also, my employer expected reports on progress toward project objectives and completion. In the same way, a department head could report, “We are working on Project A, which is …” Later, a department head could report, “We are continuing to work on Project A and have achieved Objective 1, which is …”
Robin, you are not crazy. “Should Park Rapids expect this kind of accountability of its public servants?” Yes.