Jeff Lytle: Why is transparency so hard for Collier school system to embrace?

JEFF LYTLE
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You might think that one Collier County School Board advisory committee holding meetings outside the view of TV cameras, simply because it prefers privacy, would be enough.

But maybe not.

We might get another.

Rather than advise perspective volunteers for an overall fiscal watchdog board — recommended by the leading advocates of a tax flexibility referendum that voters bought into last year — that meetings will be broadcast for everyone to see, Superintendent Dennis Thompson is leaving maximum sunshine up to members later.

Good grief.

Seizing defeat from the jaws of victory.

Why is this so hard? Every other local government entity routinely puts advisory meetings on TV. The school system has a fine TV setup and channel in place. The School Board keeps saying it and Thompson ought to do a better job of communicating.

But when there is an opportunity to deliver, on a subject as increasingly important as your money, stuff like this happens.

For every step Thompson’s administration takes forward, it takes a step back. The school system’s own official press release seeking volunteers makes the case for transparency on this “oversight” committee to “monitor” spending.

The release goes on to remind us that the panel was the brainchild of the Blue Ribbon Committee, which verified the need for the taxation vote “to be used as a vehicle for the community for continual communication and input.”

But that was before the election, when votes were needed.

Now, it’s “Televising a committee meeting is up to the committee,” as Thompson says.

* * *

Just wondering — thinking out loud.

Would any readers/letter writers be interested in helping with some sleuthing for news projects and accountability checks that we would publish in print and online?

You would be working with me.

I have some ideas and I would like to hear yours.

Drop me a line at CLICK HERE ... newsteam@naplesnews.com.

* * *

One more thing: Daily News columnist Don Farmer made some good points a while back.

No, not about snowbirds.

About dangerous traffic patterns — inside shopping center parking lots.

Some of them can rival the most perilous roadway.

Let me know your “favorite” shopping center hot spots.

Fire off an e-mail to CLICK HERE ... dangerzones@naplesnews.com.

Bonus points for photos and videos.

* * *

Letter writers and other readers had some fun with the column of a few weeks ago about my challenges for the newly inducted National Honor Society members at Lorenzo Walker Technical High School.

They included: Read to a child, keep in touch with your teachers, expose yourself to new ideas — even if they make you mad, and do not be led by bad people.

I added a few for the GED graduates assembled at Golden Gate High School last week: Read for your own pleasure, learn to speak English and Spanish, remember earning and learning are a lot alike, and take part in the conversation in this Google world.

One message was the same for both audiences: Treat this as a beginning.

Points I wish I had included for both: Tell the truth, and when you say you are going to do something, do it.

How’s that?

* * *

Naples Mayor Bill Barnett is my guest on “One on One” at noon today on Comcast’s MyTV8 in Collier and Lee counties and around the clock at CLICK HERE ... naplesnews.com/oneonone, where a written record of highlights round out the package.

* * *

We are putting a lot of emphasis these days on our Web site, naplesnews.com. A lot of good things are and will be happening.

Please overlook the occasional lowest-common-denominator hucksterism that creeps in, such as a poll the other day on this burning question: “Should it be legal to have sex with animals?”

Jeff Lytle is editorial page editor of the Daily News. His e-mail address is jflytle@naplesnews.com. Call him at 263-4773

© 2009 marconews.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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