OPINION: We Deserve Respect, Truth From Public Officials
“You’re done asking people questions about this.”
It took me a minute to realize that a public official last month actually said those words in a phone call to me, a journalist trying to keep residents up to date about changes coming to a community that were also discussed previously at a public meeting.
When I told the official moments later that it was my job to keep people informed and ask questions and that I would not stop asking such questions, I was hung up on.
I wonder what would have happened if I was a concerned citizen calling to ask the official the same question about an issue at a recent meeting that was open to the public.
Would I still be disrespected? Repeatedly talked down to? Hung up on?
Because if I were a community member calling someone whose job is literally to advocate for me and look out for my best interests and those of my community, that would really tick me off.
I won’t name the official or the municipality because I’m going to be the bigger person. But we need more from someone in a position of authority.
Almost all local officials are not in their position for the attention or the power. Most are there to better their community, help others and institute positive change — to help propel the municipality to greater heights. And most do an incredible job.
Part of working in a public office includes you being the person to pick up the phone and answer questions of citizens and the local media. If the answer to every phone call comes with the audible ‘click’ of a hang-up anytime you don’t like the question, why are you in office?
I will not back down. I will not be bullied into silence or complacency, and both I and the Trempealeau County Times will continue to ask questions to keep the public informed and keep transparency alive.