Of late, I've been listening & reading some interesting news about how certain entities that receive significant tax-payer funds operate largely in secret without any public scrutiny. In particular, my hometown newspaper, the Chronicle-Tribune, has requested to cover the Grant County Economic Growth Council meetings.
The Chronicle was told that the the GCEGC is a private organization, and is exempt from audits from the Indiana State Board of Accounts. Furthermore, the Chronicle-Tribune is not welcomed to attend meetings, nor investigate and report on how their $300,000.00 annual budget is spent. Although the funds are used under the auspices to attract & recruit businesses to move to Grant County & the Marion community (which in turn, should equate in more jobs for our local citizens), there have been several disconcerting business ventures that have failed. Some of these ventures involves millions of dollars...resulting in unresolved legal & significant financing problems. The tax-payers are left holding the bag, all in the hopes we can land some jobs.
While I certainly understand the need for discretion in dealing with potential businesses that we are trying to bring to town, I commend the newspaper for asking the tough questions. Indiana law seems pretty clear on the transparency of how tax funds are used. Journalists are right to pursue this issue. Tax-payers have the right to know how & where their money is being used. The Chronicle-Tribune will not win many friends by pursuing this story, especially with some city leaders (some of whom I know personally and consider friends). But the CT is doing the right thing.
You can read the David Penticuff's (Editor for the Chronicle-Tribune) article in the Indiana Policy Review here for an insightful account of this controversial issue.