• 75°

Editorial: Democracy needs sunshine

Something is amiss in the Salisbury Fire Department, as evidenced by the dismissal of two firefighters this month. City officials have been slow to divulge information, but the law is on the side of sunshine. State personnel laws now require that the public get a form of explanation.
It hasnít always been this way. For years citizens have been left in the dark when teachers, cops, firefighters and other government employees were involved in controversy. State laws hid nearly all personnel information behind a wall of confidentiality, and powerful government employee groups encouraged lawmakers to keep it that way.
Frustrated citizens finally got through to their elected representatives in 2010. We want to know whatís going on, and now personnel laws give us that right.
The buy-in by public officials has been slow. At first City Hall would say only that firefighters Courtney Brown and Baxter ěBuddyî Miller were no longer with the fire department ó without indicating if they resigned or were dismissed. But state law is clear; the public must have access to the date and type of each promotion, demotion, transfer, suspension, separation, or other change in position classification. Friday evening the city relented on this point and released records showing the two had been dismissed.
Why were they dismissed? The city is keeping the citizenry in suspense ó and awash in rumors ó a little longer. ěBelieve me, we appreciate the Postís interest in reporting public record information about city employees,î City Manager David Treme said in an e-mail Friday, ěbut at the same time we must not ignore our obligations to deal fairly with employees involved and to allow them the opportunity to request review of actions that are not yet final actions.î
When the employeesí appeal periods end and the firings are final, the city has some explaining to do. Fortunately, Attorney General Roy Cooper issued a memo last November spelling out the process. When a dismissal occurs, the public is to have access to ěa copy of the written notice of the final decision of the public employer setting forth the specific acts or omissions that are the basis of the dismissal.î
The written notices City Hall shares probably will be brief. If they are also vague, the city will be testing the publicís trust. ěSpecific acts or omissionsî leaves little room for ambiguity.
More than 28,000 city residents rely on the Salisbury Fire Department for fire protection and help in emergencies. Our hearts broke when two firefighters died in a city fire in 2008; they were serving the city. And now weíre puzzled by sudden, unexplained changes in the department many have come to hold dear. By and large, our public servants are good people who act with professionalism and integrity. They deserve a public explanation as much as taxpayers do. The longer questions go unanswered, the more suspicious the public grows.

Comments

Comments closed.

Crime

68-year-old woman identified as Jackson Street murder victim

Crime

Man arrested in Jacksonville for Salisbury murder

Local

Rowan-Salisbury Schools finalizes normal, five-day schedule for fall

Local

Council to vote on budget, consider permit for child care center near downtown

Landis

Landis adopts budget with reduction in residential electric rates, no tax increases

Local

Political Notebook: Budd campaign touts boost in voter support after Trump endorsement

Local

Seventh Dragon Boat Festival scheduled July 24

News

NC rights groups say GOP bills impede voting access

Local

Sgt. Shane Karriker’s funeral procession travels through downtown Salisbury

Crime

Blotter: June 14

Ask Us

Ask Us: When will front entrance to courthouse reopen?

Coronavirus

As COVID-19 cases wane, vaccine-lagging areas still at risk

Crime

Blotter: Man faces litany of charges for fleeing sheriff’s deputies

Granite Quarry

‘Race to the Dan’ brings Revolutionary War back to Rowan

Local

‘Unity in the Community’ event brings together Salisbury Police, NAACP

Crime

One killed, two others shot on South Jackson Street in Salisbury

Crime

State examining Davidson County emergency alert received in Rowan, other counties

Local

Cleveland Rodeo packs house for 10th year

News

Salisbury’s Jacques Belliveau talks mental health, filming during premiere of ‘Reggie: A Millennial Depression Comedy’

News

Sen. Ford backs new set of election-related bills

Business

Downtown Salisbury bullish on potential for more residential space

Business

Biz Roundup: Wine about Winter set for June 18

Business

Local artists draw in adventurous travelers with eclectic Airbnb rental downtown

Education

Commissioners discussing reviving joint capital project committee with school board