Jim Zachary: Stop spinning and answer the question

Government-speak is exhausting.

The women and men we elect to office should stop trying to spin the narrative and just answer direct questions directly, using plain language.

Government spin demonstrates a total lack of transparency.

Frankly, we do not elect men and women to the Georgia General Assembly, city council, county commission, boards of education or any state, federal or local government office to convince us that everything is beautiful.

We do not elect them to put a spin on legislative action. They are elected to represent us.

Elected officials and their spokespersons should speak plainly, not cloak their actions with flowery speech intended to cast government in the best light and just stop putting lipstick on the pig.

Government should not be in the business of trying to convince the public of anything.

Trying to convince the public that legislative action is good or bad is called campaigning and campaigning should be left to political campaigns.

When elected or appointed government representatives start spinning the narrative, it just makes the media more skeptical, look harder and work more diligently to find the real story.

Spin is counterproductive to the agency or individuals doing the spinning.

For an example, elected officials should never try to justify a tax increase. At the local level, it is up to the public to determine if raising the millage is a good or bad idea, based on the numbers, not based on a crafted narrative.

Government is actually restricted from campaigning for a SPLOST, ESPLOST or TSPLOST, but that does not seem to matter. It is done anyway. In many communities across Georgia, signs along infrastructure projects read “Your SPLOST pennies hard at work.” What is that if it is not campaigning? Who pays for the signs?

Does it make sense to use taxpayer dollars to convince taxpayers to pay more taxes?

In a self-governed republic, the governing should never be trying to convince the governed of anything.

Candidates make their cases for office when they are running for office, once elected they are elected to represent, not to campaign.

All of our elected officials should be open, transparent, forthcoming, accessible and should speak plainly, not just to the media, but to the public they are elected to represent on city council, county commission, the board of education or in state and federal government.

CNHI Deputy National Editor Jim Zachary is CNHI's regional editor for its Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, Tennessee and Texas newspapers and editor of the Valdosta Daily Times. He is vice president of the Georgia First Amendment Foundation.

React to this story: