It’s unfortunate for our readers when a top government official declines to talk to the press. Larry Leahy, the village’s administrator, has been quiet these past few months and the citizens of Angel Fire deserve to hear more from him.
Leahy continually declines to talk to us about stories. We think it’s because he’s been the center of controversy and we have not backed away in reporting stories in which he’s been involved. We’re sure he’s not happy with our coverage of issues surrounding his management during the past year, such as when he misrepresented his time off on his timecards on two occasions.
We also exposed his involvement in the transfer of fire department funds to make payroll in the general fund. But we didn’t make this stuff up. The problem with silence from a public official is that it can cause people to make assumptions.
There are many situations that public officials are not able to discuss with the press such as personnel issues, contract negotiations and pending lawsuits. We know that. When the Chronicle called about the recent grants for the fire department, Leahy told our reporter he would not comment due to our recent coverage.
When he asked him to respond to even basic questions about the release of the 2008 audit. Leahy would not comment in person or over the phone. He wouldn’t even respond to emailed questions. We have over 100 pages of the auditors’ comments.
The village received an unqualified opinion, which means everything’s OK. All we wanted was for Leahy to address the findings. But he declined to do so. If you know Leahy, you know he has plenty to say. And when he makes statements they are usually well composed and researched.
Leahy has already responded to the findings within the audit. Why couldn’t he share those with us? Transparency includes talking with the press. We don’t believe Leahy should keep quiet simply because he is mad at the paper or at reporters doing their jobs. It only raises more questions.