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Posted: February 20, 2009 12:01 a.m.

The right to know

 As citizens we should all be interested in local government all the time. As a matter of fact, most of us, myself included, only become interested when some event or report catches our attention.

 I went to the Newton County government site,, to see what I could find. There is a lot of information there, but there are some important items missing.

 We have all heard the reports of budget cuts and the hard decisions that face local government. But those reports are long on dire predictions and short on the details. I looked for the "details" on the county Web site. And came up empty.

 Having overall budget summaries, for the current and past years would be helpful. What would be even more helpful would be the financial information that underlies those summaries, including any projections for income and expenses.

 Another area that should concern Newton County residents is the "Comprehensive Plan" which has been listed as "being updated" since at least April 2008. I am sure work is being done on this project, but the public needs to be able to follow its progress.

 I mentioned that some event or report catches our attention and causes us to start paying attention to local government. There was a report of an eminent domain case in this paper recently that caught my eye. When I checked the court calendar page on Feb. 18, it had the Civil Motions Calendar for Oct. 13, 2004. Important at the time, I am sure, but not so much now.

 Improvement of the content already present on the county Web site should be a priority even during these troubled economic times.

 Patrick Durusau is a resident of Newton County. His columns regularly appear on Fridays.

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