When you think of local government, you probably think of the Durham City Council or the County Board of Commissioners. But our area also has an elaborate network of committees and boards that advise local officials and, in some cases, have real power.
Beginning this month, we’ll be telling you about those organizations in a series we’re calling “Under the Radar.” Our goal is to bring transparency to these government panels by covering their meetings and talking with their members and the citizens who are affected by their work.
Our initial reporting has provided an interesting glimpse into how different boards and committees operate. We found the ABC Board, which runs Durham’s liquor stores, was quite open and helpful for people who want to attend its meetings. But our reporters found a very different situation with two county groups that deal with animals, the Animal Welfare Advisory Committee and the Dangerous Dog Appeal Board. The reporters discovered the groups’ websites offered little information — or directed them to the wrong place for a meeting.
When a 9th Street Journal reporter and photographer arrived to cover the Animal Welfare committee, they found an empty parking lot and a darkened building. It turned out the county website was wrong about the location; the meeting was being held online.
I hope you’ll join us for the next few months as we take you inside the rooms (or the Zoom meetings) where these groups gather. We’ll show you what our government agencies are doing and how they affect your lives.
(At top, photo by Abigail Bromberger – The 9th Street Journal)