Bill Hartman

It’s amazing how differently some view a word’s definition.

I know of no politician in today’s America who at some point in his campaign doesn’t say he’ll be the most transparent person on earth.

Here’s what the Cambridge English Dictionary says about the word transparent: “You can see through it very clearly.”

That’s the same thing you can say about a strip of Scotch tape.

You’re talking about a candidate who could pass a TSA agent’s X-ray test. There’s nothing to see.

I don’t want that hollow soul representing me. I want my vision blocked by a person’s guts, so he/she is strong enough not to be swayed by outside pressure.

I want them to be blocked by a strong set of lungs, so he/she can breathe new life into my community.

I want him/her to be blocked by a big heart, one that is open and giving to all. And, certainly, I want them blocked by a brain that’s got capacity for knowledge, fairness and common sense.

And somewhere in between I want a little pouch overflowing with ethics, honesty, compassion and loyalty.

Here’s another word that’s bothersome to others, and to me as well: “secret.”

Rosenberg Mayor Bill Benton went into Shakespearian drama mode the other night at a city council, first extolling the fact that our community is so lucky having a daily newspaper that keeps residents up to speed.

Then he took us to task for describing their little clandestine council sessions as “secret.” It’s upsetting to me, too, to have to use the word “secret.”

Billy had rather stick to the passive adjective of executive sessions. Closed door might even pass muster with him, but he doesn’t like the vibe in “secret.” I guess he thinks it’s onorous.

Secret means hidden, closemouthed, undercover, unavowed and secluded. It also means they are carrying on Rosenberg business behind a curtain or veil, away from probing eyes and listening ears of the great unwashed (the same people, by the way, who elected them).

I’ve never understood why those on the “in” are so frightened by those who put them there. It must be a secret.

The Texas Open Meetings law has passed thousands of legal challenges. An opinion in 1976 by Attorney Geneneral John Hill has withstood the test of time, carefully explaining what can and cannot be discussed by governmental agencies in private.

The short list covers consulting with the group’s attorney on some legal matters, some litigation both by and against the board or council, some personnel issues, but not all, property sales and purchases by the entity and some disciplinary matters or rules violations by employees or elected officials.

Actually, unless an individual’s rights are in question, little of the above list, in my opinion, really rates high enough to be in private.

The Open Meetings Law also specifies exactly who must, can and cannot be included in those sessions. And it also specifies who cannot be required to attend even if the governing body demands it (501.074).

The law and the Almighty Texas Municipal League, which is the advocate, spokesman and fall guys for Texas political units, also requires new members of governing bodies to take a course within a limited time of election on the open meeting statutes.

Hopefully the new Rosenberg members have followed the law and done this. If they haven’t, I may issue a subpoena against them.

Reach BH at bhartman@hartmannews.com.

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