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Editorial: County is good example of openness

It is the role of a newspaper editorial to criticize a local government entity and/or officials when something is done improperly or illegally. It is also the newspaper's responsibility to compliment the same government entity and/or officials when government works or a process is done the right way.

Such is the case in the Tribune's compliments today concerning Kandiyohi County and County Administrator Larry Kleindl.

Kandiyohi County is a government organization that not only talks about government transparency, it practices government transparency.

And when the county falls short of its goal of government transparency, Kleindl steps up to fix the problem and get the county back on track.

At any public meeting in Minnesota, there is supposed to be one complete copy of the meeting packet made available for public review. This public packet should include the meeting agenda and any related documents that are provided to the public officials at the meeting.

At one Kandiyohi County government public meeting in late 2011, a citizen (who is also a journalist) asked a Kandiyohi County official for a document related to an item being addressed. The county official said that the document was not available. Even though the document was included in the public packet located in the room, the official did not offer or tell the citizen/journalist where the document was, but said the document was not available.

Not being forthright is not a good practice for any public employee in any open government.

Kleindl was not pleased to hear that a county employee was not forthright when asked about this specific document. Kleindl moved promptly to address the official's shortcoming and make sure future requests are handled promptly.

In addition, Kleindl directed that all future agendas and information for this regular meeting be published on the county's website in the future.

The Willmar Municipal Utilities and the city of Willmar could learn from the county's example.

We commend Kandiyohi County and Kleindl for not only practicing open government and transparency, but correcting a problem when it arose. Every citizen benefits from good, open and transparent government.