By Jeb Bladine • President / Publisher • 

Transparency wins the day in Newberg

Kudos to Newberg City Council for striking a mighty blow on behalf of government transparency.


Jeb Bladine is president and publisher of the News-Register.

> See his column

This week, the Newberg council released a 50-page investigation report about internal feuds, alleged misconduct and charges of harassment within city government. Such transparency no doubt stunned the investigator, who wrote this introductory comment:

“The investigator anticipates that the City will keep this Report confidential, and it will not be disseminated except as required by law or as the City determines necessary.”

Full disclosure was necessary, the council decided, because “failure to disclose the Final Investigation Report would be perceived by the public as an attempt by the City Council to cover up potential improper conduct. This perception would adversely affect the public’s confidence in the City Council and the City. Transparency to the extent allowed and protected by law, is important to the City.”

Was that a breath of fresh air I just felt rush by?

Reading the investigation report was like binge-watching two years of “As The World Turns.” And now, Newberg has opened the curtain that shrouded the city’s long-running soap opera.

N-R Reporter Nicole Montesano’s news story today recounts dispassionate details of the Newberg saga. That story begs for comment about the need for — and rarity of — full government transparency.

Our federal government is embroiled in controversy spawned by secrecy, leaks and more secrecy. One response comes from the Society of American Archivists:

“The critical nature of information in a democracy places the burden to prove the need for confidentiality, or the legitimacy of excluding information from the public domain, on those asserting such claims … (we) strongly oppose any effort by presidential administrations to deny U.S. citizens access to government information found in archives and records.”

Oregonians have our own challenges with transparency. Consider the lead from a September story in The Oregonian shortly after Oregon Public Records Advocate Ginger McCall informed the governor that she planned to resign:

“Attorneys for Gov. Kate Brown repeatedly sought to stop the state’s official transparency advocate from finding and fixing weaknesses in Oregon’s public records law, and Brown was fully briefed on those developments in May, a newly released document shows.”

As William Shakespeare wrote, “All the world’s a stage, And all the men and women merely players.” Many “players” should look to John 8:32 for inspiration related to government transparency:

“And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”

Jeb Bladine can be reached at or 503-687-1223.