The sad thing about the Hagerstown City Council's growing addiction to secrecy is not that it inconveniences The Herald-Mail's reporters. Sooner or later, the inside dope on what's been done in secret comes out and reporters can write their stories.
No, the sad thing is that elected officials are unwilling to treat citizens as partners in the process of running the city. Give us your tax money, the council says, but don't ask to watch while we decide how to spend it.
Is that too harsh a judgment? Consider this quote from Councilman J. Wallace McClure, who defended the council's decision to close most of this year's budget hearings by saying that "If they had been open to the public, we would have heard from everyone, and it would have taken forever."
Maybe so, although we doubt it. No more than a handful of citizens regularly attend council meetings, and since the council agreed in advance that the two things they wouldn't do with this year's budget was to raise taxes or lay off employees, there didn't figure to be any controversy that would draw a crowd.