Politicians must stop running from questions – The Daily Gazette

Lieutenant Governor Brian Benjamin did something very typical of more and more politicians these days when faced with tough questions from reporters.

He escaped.

Benjamin was attending a news conference about improving Holocaust education in the state when reporters began asking him about Governor Kathy Hochul’s 10-point plan to fight crime. The plan includes rolling back some of the provisions of the state’s controversial bail reforms.

Benjamin’s response to reporters was that he was only there to answer questions about Holocaust education, and nothing else.

After the press conference, he lined up for a waiting elevator that a member of his staff was holding open, while ignoring reporters’ questions put to him as a staff member told the journalists: “I’m sorry, we’re not answering questions at this time.

Hochul took a different but familiar approach on Monday when asked about the plan, which was leaked and published in the New York Post last week. She invented a cloak of secrecy to justify her evasive answers, saying she would not negotiate politics in public.

How convenient.

Reporters did not ask him about contract negotiations with a union, which could be jeopardized by the disclosure of his side’s position. They asked her about a plan she came up with that is already public and being debated.

The politicians’ responses sparked a comparison on Twitter to the crazy Philadelphia Flyers hockey team mascot Gritty breaking away from security guards, with the photo captioned: “The Hochul administration when someone asks about bail reform.”

Hochul and Benjamin are of course not the first politicians to dodge tough questions.

Hochul’s predecessor, Governor Andrew Cuomo, did so by simply not answering questions or by insulting reporters and firing them outright. And Washington politicians are regularly seen on television running in elevators, ducking into vehicles and even slipping into restrooms to get away from reporters.

Public officials cannot forget that they have an obligation to answer questions. It is a way for citizens to learn about what their government is doing and whether the people they have appointed are serving them effectively.

Lt. Governor Benjamin apparently figured that out later Tuesday. After dodging questions all day, Benjamin did something more politicians need to do.

He stopped, faced the reporters, apologized for avoiding them, and answered their questions.

“State leaders should be accountable to the press, accountable to the public,” he said.

Good for him.

If more of our public servants started answering questions instead of running away from them, the citizens they serve would be much better informed.

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