2011-02-25 / On Second Thought

True transparency requires more than lip service

By Curtis M. Loftis Jr., South Carolina treasurer

In hometowns across the Palmetto State, it’s not always easy to visit Columbia to see what politicians are up to.

Last year, you went to the polls swayed by promises of “transparency in government.” Transparency played a key role in the State Treasurer’s race. I won all 46 counties during the GOP primary and received a record number of votes in the general election.

So what’s become of our commitment to transparency?

During the first few weeks on the job I have gone the extra mile to show South Carolinians that commitment to transparency is about action, not just slogans.

Just one week on the job, I put my calendar on the internet so you could see how I was investing your time. The calendar you will see is the actual Microsoft Office planner we use in the office. I am proud to be the first known statewide office holder in the country to do this.

If I have a morning meeting with a lobbyist, a noon meeting with a CEO or an afternoon meeting with bond analysts; you’ll see it. (If you’d like to view my most recent office calendar for yourself, please visit www.treasurer.sc.gov).

Additionally, I led the successful fight to move S.C. Budget and Control Board meetings to a larger, more accessible venue so you can come see what we do. It makes no sense for important taxpayer business to be conducted behind closed doors or for meetings to go be held in a room the size of a shoebox.

On February 8, I was proud to participate in the first Budget and Control Board meeting ever held in Room 101 of the Blatt Building, which can accommodate up to 150 people in addition to board members and staff. Even with such a large room there, was standing room only and its proof the public is interested in how their money is being spent! Moreover, your news outlets had easy access to the proceedings.

I vow to fight any push to move the meetings back to a smaller room. When you come to Columbia to see your government in action, you deserve access.

Buzzwords and promises win elections, but action is required to create real change and that is exactly what our taxpayers need now.

While I can’t speak for anyone else, when my website tells you I am committed to “transparency, accountability, and efficiency,” you’ll see firsthand it’s not just talk, it’s action. Whether it’s your town council or agencies in Columbia, the best government is one that happens before the people, not behind closed doors.

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