Our View - National Newspaper Week
You’ve got to loved a retired journalist. Ernie Segars, who did such great work at The Clinton Chronicle, then retired as Laurens County Administrator, and now writes an occasional column for The Laurens County Advertiser, comes to mind.
Segars, in retirement, is chairman of a local committee organizing the Laurens County observances of the 250th Anniversary of the American Revolution. He told the County Council the other night that the committee welcomes the chance to follow all county rules, the procurement code, and even the FOI, regarding public meetings, posting agendas, and keeping minutes. The FOI, for the uninitiated, is the South Carolina Freedom of Information Act.
It’s how we know the council meets every other Tuesday, the school board meets the fourth Monday, and Clinton’s city council meets ... often.
Ernie was stressing that the committee’s work would be open and above board, everyone would be welcome to know what they were doing, what land they might have to buy to make some American Revolution sites permanently available to the public - nothing as grand as Musgrove Mill, but something to which people could return.
His promise on Sept. 27 dovetails nicely into the week we’re in now - Oct. 3-9, National Newspaper Week - and as the cartoon at right shows, we are one of the pillars of democracy. The FOI can sometimes help us root out what we don’t know - we don’t know the cause and manner of death of an inmate dying in Johnson Detention Center custody this year; we don’t know the terms of Thomas Higgs’ contract as the Laurens County Administrator; we don’t know the “Legal Matters” before the District 56 School Board in closed session Sept. 27 (in a time when a TikTok challenge is compelling kids to trash school bathrooms; could be that but maybe not). And, some people would say we shouldn’t know - government is people and people’s business should stay private.
While we are sensitive to that, we respectfully do not agree, especially where tax money is involved. So, through Covid, and meetings, and floods and winds, we soldier on. This week, and always.