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Meeting attendance tied to transparency

Not all Ocean Pines Association members who demand more transparency from their board of directors may realize it, but they play a critical role in how their governing body operates.

Essentially, their job in ensuring the transparency they say they want to see is to participate in the conduct of government instead of waiting at home to see what happens and commenting after the fact.

That participatory approach certainly applies to Saturday’s OPA annual meeting, which must have enough members present to constitute a quorum. Otherwise, the leadership can’t legally conduct business, a major part of which is the validation of the this summer’s election.

The presence of a quorum at this biggest board meeting of the year would seem to be a given, but that hasn’t always been the case. In 2020, the session failed to draw the 100-member audience the bylaws require. As a result, the meeting was suspended, no business was done, and a special meeting had to be scheduled.

That situation, of course, was largely due to the understandable unwillingness of members to risk their health during the covid-19 rampage that summer.

Still, annual meetings have rarely been inundated by hordes of members clamoring for a seat, and some years have been better than others.

The point is, members can hardly expect the directors to keep public accountability in the forefronts of their minds, when there’s no great contingent of members present to remind them of their duty.

The basic principles of democratic government require the public’s engagement throughout the governing process, because the absence of that implies to officials that they have a freer hand to operate.

That notion, however unfounded it may be, does not translate to more transparency, which only works when someone is watching.