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Charlotte Amalie
Wednesday, March 29, 2023


Gov. Charles W. Turnbull's decision to release the names of the 37 Schneider administration officials who got big lump-sum payments Dec. 30 for unused annual and other leave was a happy surprise for those who have spent years fighting for the routine release of this kind of public information.
We don't want to get our hopes up, but maybe this governor really means it when he says the public is entitled to full disclosure of public information.
Other governors have started out saying this too. Inevitably – and regrettably — they've changed their minds when the information being released isn't in their favor.
Let's hope that doesn't happen with Turnbull too.
As everyone in and out of government should have figured out by now, secrecy backfires. It engenders mistrust and suspicion about government in general and government officials in particular. This in turn undermines confidence in our entire democratic system.
The best policy is openness and candor about public money, public policy and public issues — period.
One other thought: While we are encouraged by Turnbull's decision to release the data on his predecessor's $383,000 "midnight raid on the treasury," as Turnbull called it, we hope he will name someone soon as his permanent press secretary. That will help him get information out to the public in a timely, complete manner.
It is unseemly, for example, for Dr. Wilbur Callender to show up at the Health Department to take over as commissioner when his appointment hasn't even been announced and he must then explain his unexpected presence to the staff. That just shouldn't happen.
Once the governor reaches agreement with someone to serve in his Cabinet or some other high- level position, that appointment should be announced as quickly as possible – to the public and to the affected employees. The alternative is what happened to Callender, or leaks by friends and relatives to the media, or inaccurate reports that could have been prevented.

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