When government leaders promise transparency and accountability and then set out on a course in the opposite direction you have to wonder if they think their constituents are that gullible or they are masters in the art of illusion.
Gov. Kevin Stitt was correct when he reportedly presumed Oklahomans wanted accountability, transparency and results from their elected leaders. It appeared he was headed in that direction when his administration posted Oklahoma Checkbook online, providing access to real time state expenditures.
But then his administration allows a 15-member task force to meet behind closed doors as they address criminal justice reforms. The issue, which has attracted a lot of interest from voters and contention amongst lawmakers, arguably is one of the most important political topics of the times and should be debated publicly while decisions are being made — the task force's chairman said as much in a public plea.
And then there are the state's district attorneys, who according to reporting by Oklahoma Watch, "enjoy an unusual relationship that breaks with the pattern of other locally elected political or law enforcement groups in Oklahoma." Not only do they administer their local offices and a state agency, they operate a nonprofit that lobbies lawmakers.
Prosecutors, when meeting as the District Attorney Council, a public body, reportedly gloss over criminal justice reform. When those issues are raised during public meetings, prosecutors who opposed the reforms approved by voters in State Questions 780 and 781 reportedly prefer to hash that out when they meet as District Attorney Association.
Oklahoma Watch reports that both organizations share a business address and conference room in the same Oklahoma City building. They also share the same executive leadership and membership.
This lack of transparency sows distrust in government. The governor's 15-member Criminal Justice Reentry, Supervision, Treatment, and Opportunity Reform Task Force should open its doors to public, and prosecutors should do the same.
What do they have to hide?