Editorial More sunlight, please

0
99

It’s hard to look away from the events in Washington, DC, where a new president asserts himself as a presence equally hostile to establishment politicians, media, ethics experts and whomever is responsible for counting crowds on the National Mall. Raleigh, too, has its share of strife as a new legislature prepares to be seated against a new governor who doesn’t share its mentality.

But this week we turn homeward to Greensboro, where during odd-numbered years city council members start asserting their agendas right about now.

We are believers in the old adage that sunlight is the best disinfectant.

The earliest player in the game is Sharon Hightower of District 1, who has aligned herself with a group calling itself GSO Operation Transparency, the purpose of which is to unearth documents that might shed more light on the Dejuan Yourse/Travis Cole situation.

A refresher: Councilmembers, with encouragement from Chief Wayne Scott, voted to release body-cam footage of Officer Cole strong-arming Yourse, who at the time was sitting on his mother’s front porch. Cole resigned from the force, and so did his partner, who left in the wake of the publicity. Charges were dropped against Yourse, and no doubt a civil suit is in the works — the last time Cole roughed up a citizen, it cost the city $50,000.

After council voted 7-2 against releasing the documentation, police arrested seven members of the transparency group for civil disobedience last week during a demonstration in Melvin Municipal Building (including Lamar Gibson, who’s sold advertising for TCB in the past). Now Hightower, who has seen the documents in question, must either keep pushing or move onto the next battle and hope her constituency stands with her.

A new group called Democracy Greensboro that’s aligned with the Police Accountability Community Safety & Healing Initiative — a Beloved Community Center-adjacent project — is vowing to find candidates to run against councilmembers opposed to such transparency efforts. They might begin with conservative District 5 Councilman Tony Wilkins in southwest Greensboro, or with on-again-off-again progressive at-large Councilwoman Marikay Abuzuaiter. (Read more here.)

We’re not going to weigh in on the wisdom of such challenges just yet, but we’re happy to assert — again — that we stand by calls for the documents in the Yourse case to be released. Transparency is a hallmark of good government, and we’ll remind Mayor Nancy Vaughan that it’s part of the platform she ran on for mayor.

We are believers in the old adage that sunlight is the best disinfectant. While several councilmembers patted themselves on the back for being transparent when releasing the Yourse tape, there is no sound logical argument we’ve heard yet for refusing to provide the documents that GSO Operation Transparency seeks.

We want to see them, too.