You’d think that, given the recent DHEC controversy concerning a tuberculosis scare in Greenwood County, the agency would want to clear the air and keep it clear.
The public has made it known that it wants more information more quickly. And director Catherine Templeton has made an extra effort to let the public know just what happened and why.
So it’s curious that on Monday DHEC staff put up signs making it more difficult for the public to get information. They advised people not to approach DHEC board members at their seats in the board room.
It has been the practice that people could talk with board members during breaks in the meeting or after it ended. But suddenly that’s a concern because the public might see documents containing sensitive information lying on the conference table.
Why not simply advise members to close or cover such materials instead of giving the public another reason to think DHEC is less than forthcoming?
DHEC spokesman Jim Beasley offered to relay questions to board members and come back with their responses, according to The State newspaper.
That’s no way to conduct a meaningful conversation.
Or, he said, members who wish can leave the area and talk with the public.
So what had been a straightforward way to discuss the public’s business just gets more convoluted.
State agencies should be looking for ways to make the public’s business more accessible, not less.
Restricting information-gathering opportunities is a move in the wrong direction.