ANR to help spread sunshine on community’s EMS talks

The sun is shining a little brighter this week, and not just because of Sunday’s switch to Daylight Savings Time.
This is Sunshine Week in America, part of a national initiative to promote a dialogue about the importance of open government and freedom of information. Though the political landscape is more polarized than ever at the national level, keeping the light on the people’s business ought to be something everyone can agree on, especially here at home.
Toward that end, I am pleased to report this week that the News-Register will be shedding sunshine on a conversation of extreme importance to our community involving the future of emergency medical services.
It’s been well documented that the county board voted to end its role as owner/manager of what all agree is a top-rate ambulance service, setting an end date of Oct. 1, 2018. The city has therefore launched a new study, with a committee focused on the merits of converting to a fire-based EMS system.
There are far more questions than answers at this point on issues that could impact anyone who may one day have to dial 911 in a medical emergency. How will the service change in Aurora and throughout the county? What might a partnership look like with the city, county and hospital, all of which have expressed interest in being part of a solution going forward? What will the new service cost, and who will pay that bill?
By listening in on and reporting the issues contemplated by the city’s EMS committee, the News-Register seeks to build better trust and understanding within the community. We all have a vested interest in EMS care and have a right to know how taxpayer dollars will be spent to provide it, if in fact that’s the final outcome. Checks and balances provide few checks and little balance when conversations occur behind closed doors away from the public’s eyes and ears.
A perfect example of the impact full transparency can make is the year-long conversation Hampton Public Schools recently had with local patrons regarding its facility upgrade. The News-Register had a seat at every single citizen-based committee meeting, board meeting and public forum, reported the options being considered, then toward the end fielded questions from the public via letters to the editor which the board and administration tried to answer in specific detail. The final decision to renovate the school and build a new competition gymnasium was not a unanimous vote by any means, but that open book approach put ALL the information on the table for people to see and evaluate on their own.
That’s what transparency looks like and why sunshine is so essential to effective government. Openness builds trust, and your hometown newspaper is fully vested in that process.
Spreading sunshine on information the public has the right to know has been and always will be as important as anything we do.
Kurt Johnson

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