There’s an old saying among members of the political media: Sunlight is the best disinfectant.
The general idea being that if you have the illness of maladministration, the best thing to do is let the sun and fresh air of openness and transparency come in through the windows.
Judging from a few of our recent stories, some of Cayman’s appointed boards are in desperate need of fresh air and a bit of sunshine – and we’re not talking about the kind you can get walking along Seven Mile Beach.
For too long, boards and commissions in these small Islands have been allowed to operate largely in secret – or behind closed doors if you prefer that term – without members of the public having any knowledge of what is happening there. Cayman’s open records law in 2009 led to many of the appointed boards and commissions publishing their meeting minutes.
However, the details contained in these documents are often (although not in all cases) somewhat lacking and are in any case not extremely timely.
In our view, nothing can replace the value of public meetings in ensuring openness and integrity in government. Let’s be honest, the only thing people who are doing something wrong worry about is getting caught and having to operate in the public eye most of the time would serve to lower the risk.
No less an authority than Attorney General Sam Bulgin has said that he supports open meetings for many of the country’s boards and commissions.
The reason? Not having open meetings makes it more difficult to police and prove potential violations of the country’s Anti-Corruption Law.
So, instead of simply making political hay over who’s at fault for a criminal investigation now proceeding within the National Housing Development Trust or seeking to hammer staff members that simply cannot account for expenditures at the Public Service Pensions Board, let’s fix the problem once and for all.
Let’s have open meetings.
Sunlight is still the best disinfectant.