Good Governance – Responsibility

In the realm of local governance, the significance of responsible leadership cannot be overstated. For a local community’s school and village boards, the concept of responsibility forms the very foundation upon which effective governance is built. The intertwining roles of these boards in shaping the education and livelihoods of community members underscore the need for responsible decision-making, transparent actions, and a commitment to the greater good.

At the heart of any functional democracy lies the principle of responsibility. This principle guides leaders to uphold their roles with integrity, diligence, and accountability. In the context of our local governments such as our school and village boards, this responsibility extends to ensuring the best interests of the community they serve. When leaders prioritize their obligations to the people who elected them, it sets the stage for trust, collaboration, and sustainable development.

Transparency and Accountability

As I’ve mentioned in previous articles, two of the most important aspects of good governance are transparency and accountability. They are also intimately tied to the notion of responsibility. Openly sharing information about decisions, actions, and resource allocation not only fosters public trust but also provides a platform for community engagement. When our governments communicate openly and honestly, residents can better understand the rationale behind decisions and contribute valuable input, resulting in policies that reflect the collective aspirations. Accountability goes hand in hand with this. Responsible governance requires board members to acknowledge their decisions and actions, taking ownership of both successes and setbacks. By being answerable to the public, local governments ensure that their decisions align with the needs and desires of the community. These concepts are all tied together.

Safeguarding Community Interests

In the realm of school boards specifically, the impact of responsible governance directly affects the quality of education provided to young minds. Responsible board members prioritize allocating resources for the betterment of students and educators, ensuring that the learning environment is conducive to growth and innovation. They recognize the weight of their decisions in shaping the future of the community through education and commit to choices that elevate the standard of learning. This is such important a notion that it is solidified and inscribed in the District Vision Statement of the Fall Creek school district: “Committed to Academic and Personal Excellence”. This requires us to always seek to improve in every way, and not just rest on our laurels or consider anything “good enough”. Nothing is “good enough” for our children. Our children today will be our future doctors, lawyers, and leaders tomorrow. It’s important that they have the best education possible.

For village boards, responsible governance means safeguarding the interests and well-being of the residents. From infrastructure development to public services, responsible decisions consider the long-term effects on the community’s livability, sustainability, and overall quality of life. Responsible leaders allocate resources judiciously and conservatively, striving to strike a balance between immediate needs and future aspirations, as well as the financial well-being and stability of the community. It’s important to note here that a community doesn’t necessarily have to seek perpetual growth, but must ensure that there is not perpetual regression.


Responsibility in local governance transcends individual agendas. “Groupthink” causes stagnation and decay; conversely, good local governance thrives on collaboration and inclusivity, where board members actively seek diverse perspectives and engage the community in decision-making processes.

It is the responsibility of all elected officials to consider those opinions that disagree with their own, to ensure that they are accounting for the possibility that they may be in error. This is a huge aspect of responsibility in governance.

School boards can make well-informed decisions that cater to the needs of all involved parties by involving different stakeholders, such as parents, teachers, students, and local businesses. For village boards, responsible governance entails fostering a sense of belonging and participation among all residents.

By embracing a collaborative approach, these boards tap into the wealth of knowledge and ideas that exist within their communities, leading to solutions that are both innovative and effective.


In the intricate tapestry of good governance, responsibility is the thread that weaves through every action, decision, and interaction. For our school and village boards, this principle is paramount, as it directly influences the quality of education of our young people, the vibrancy of our community, and the future prospects of generations to come. When leaders commit to responsible governance, they pave the way for transparency, accountability, collaboration, and the collective prosperity of the community. As citizens, we must recognize the importance of holding our local leaders to the highest standards of responsibility, ensuring that our school and village flourish under their care.

Good Governance – Accountability

Good Governance – Accountability

Accountability is one of the bedrocks of effective governance at any level, and local governments, including village and school boards, are no exception. These grassroots institutions play a vital role in shaping the lives of community members, making responsible decision-making and transparency essential. In this article, I will explore the paramount importance of accountability in local governments, delving into its benefits and how it fosters trust, participation, and sustainable development.

Upholding Transparency and Building Trust in Governance

As I’ve mentioned before, at the core of accountable local governance lies transparency. Transparency ensures that decisions are made openly, with information and actions accessible to the public. By proactively sharing financial records, meeting minutes, and policies, local governments foster trust with their constituents. This transparency not only allows community members to understand the reasoning behind decisions but also helps prevent corruption and misuse of power. Transparency and accountability go hand in hand, for what is the purpose of transparency, if those elected officials aren’t held accountable for any poor decisions that they may make?

When local governments embrace accountability, they demonstrate a commitment to serving their constituents’ best interests. By being answerable for their actions, they build trust and credibility within the community. Trust in governance encourages citizen participation and engagement, leading to a more active and informed community. Citizens who feel that their voices are heard are more likely to support initiatives and contribute to local development. Contrary-wise, when accountability goes out the window, so too does citizen engagement.

Ensuring Effective Resource Management and Encouraging Citizen Participation

Local governments are responsible for managing resources such as finances, infrastructure, and public services. Accountability ensures that these resources are utilized judiciously, responsibly, and frugally. A transparent and responsible approach to resource management helps prevent wasteful spending and promotes efficient allocation of funds to address community needs effectively.

Accountable local governments foster a culture of citizen participation. When constituents see that their input matters, they are more likely to actively engage in community affairs. Public consultations, town hall meetings, and community forums provide opportunities for citizens to express their concerns, offer suggestions, and work collaboratively with local officials to find solutions. This participatory approach leads to policies that are more representative of the community’s diverse needs.

Promoting Sustainable Development and Mitigating Corruption and Mismanagement

Sustainable development is a critical aspect of local governance, as it ensures that the needs of the current generation are met without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. Accountability plays a pivotal role in promoting sustainable practices by holding local governments responsible for implementing long-term, environmentally conscious policies. This may include initiatives related to renewable energy, waste management, urban planning, and conservation efforts. This is why projects such as the Eau Claire River Watershed Coalition are so important, to ensure that our children and their children have clean and clear water. It’s important for such groups to have clear goals, and to publicly state what those goals are, the steps they are taking to meet them, and the outcomes of their attempts.

Accountability also acts as a powerful deterrent against corruption and mismanagement of public resources. When local governments are transparent about their financial dealings and decision-making processes, it becomes harder for unscrupulous individuals to exploit the system for personal gain. Regular audits and oversight mechanisms further bolster accountability, ensuring that those responsible for public service remain committed to their duties. When elected officials are called to account for their actions, it can only improve all of the functions of government. This is why I’m personally opposed to closed session meetings, except where an open session could directly cause harm to a person, persons, or organization(s).

In conclusion, accountability is the lifeblood of successful local governments, including village and school boards. Upholding transparency, building trust, and fostering citizen participation are all essential components of accountable governance. By embracing accountability, local governments can effectively manage resources, promote sustainable development, and safeguard against corruption and mismanagement. Ultimately, accountable local governments are better equipped to address community needs, foster civic engagement, and create a brighter future for their constituents. As active participants in our local communities, we must demand and support accountable governance to build stronger, more vibrant societies.

Good Governance – Transparency

Good Governance – Transparency

Transparency is a fundamental principle that underpins the effective functioning of local government. It refers to the openness, accountability, and accessibility of information and decision-making processes. In the context of village boards and school boards, transparency plays a crucial role in ensuring the trust of citizens, promoting responsible and sensible governance, and fostering civic engagement. Here I will examine the significance of transparency in local government, with specific emphasis on village boards and school boards.

For the purposes of Accountability and Public Trust

Transparency in local government fosters accountability and upholds public trust. When decision-making processes and the reasons behind those decisions are made accessible to the public, citizens are better able to hold their elected officials accountable. Transparent governance builds confidence in the system and ensures that public officials act in the best interests of the community.

In a local village board, transparency ensures that it becomes easier for the public to track and evaluate the actions taken by board members. The availability of information such as meeting agendas, minutes, and financial reports allows citizens to hold officials accountable for their promises, commitments, and the overall performance of their duties.

Let’s give an example of this. Let’s say that a village board decided to only meet with only two or three members at a time in committees. By doing this, they’d be under the “trigger” for Wisconsin’s Open Meetings Laws, and thus would not have to have those meetings open to the public. By choosing to do this, and by e-mailing those that weren’t in the committee individually to discuss topics, they can essentially make decisions away from the “prying” eyes of the public. Certainly, the final votes have to be cast in public meetings, but by the time those subjects get TO the public meetings, the decision has already essentially been made, without any public input. The public was not privy to these private conversations, and have no way of knowing how these decisions were made, which can result in a dysfunctional system wherein the actual public meeting is merely a formality, the publicly elected members just “going through the motions” without any conversation, debate, and without public input. This is VERY bad for accountability and the public trust.

Transparency in school board operations is especially critical, as it builds trust among parents, students, and the broader community. When the decision-making processes are transparent, it ensures that education policies, curriculum development, and resource allocation align with the best interests of students and their educational needs. Open communication and accessible information help foster a positive partnership between schools and the community they serve.

Effective Resource Allocation

Transparent decision-making processes also enable local boards to allocate resources effectively. When the decision-making process is open and accessible, it allows for public scrutiny, reducing the likelihood of favoritism, nepotism, or wasteful expenditure. Transparent budgeting and financial reporting also enable citizens to understand how their tax dollars are being utilized and to provide feedback or suggestions for improvement.

Transparency acts as a safeguard against corruption and misconduct in local government. When the operations of village boards and school boards are conducted in an open and accountable manner, it becomes more difficult for officials to engage in unethical practices or abuse their positions of power. The fear of public scrutiny acts as a deterrent, creating an environment of integrity and ethical conduct.

Let’s give an example. Let’s say that a school has recently lost a few good teachers due to a tightening of purse strings. The school had decided to cut down on labor to reduce costs. At the same time, the school principal has a son that likes to participate in Pickleball. It would be highly unethical for that Principal to speak to school board members to convince them to invest thousands of dollars in a new Pickleball court at the same time that the school is also firing teachers to save money. Sure, other children may use the Pickleball court as well, but the nepotism did affect the direction of money expenditures in a way that benefit a small portion of the students, a the expense of a larger portion of them. It would be sacrificing the education of many children, for the extracurricular activities of one child, or a few.

If the public was made more aware of such decisions, then they could more effectively speak out against such inefficient resource allocation before the funds are approved and spent. The school would then spend their money in a more cost-effective manner, maximizing the benefit to the whole student body.

Public Participation and Civic Engagement

Transparency also promotes public participation and civic engagement in local government. By providing access to information, such as meeting agendas, minutes, and reports, village boards and school boards allow citizens to stay informed and actively participate in decision-making processes. This inclusivity fosters a sense of ownership and empowerment among community members, ultimately resulting in more well-informed and representative decisions.

It is important that the public knows when meetings are happening and what they will be about, so that they have a chance to attend, and speak to the subject in an informed way, helping to guide the public officials to make the best decision based, at least partly, on the input and advice of the electorate. This also has a side effect of rejuvenating civic engagement, as the citizenry will be more excited to engage in public decisions if they are made more aware of what those decisions entail, and how it may affect them.

Final Notes

Transparency is a fundamental pillar of effective local government, specifically when it comes to village boards and school boards. By promoting accountability, effective resource allocation, public participation, and trust-building, transparency strengthens the relationship between citizens and their elected officials. It ensures that decision-making processes are fair, inclusive, and responsive to the needs and aspirations of the community. To build robust and sustainable local governance systems, it is imperative to prioritize transparency and actively work towards creating an environment where citizens have access to information and the ability to engage in decision-making processes.