locked out forever originally uploaded by darkroom11
According to this article over at the Star Tribune, following a 2006 study on how to better become involved in state and federal legislation, Dakota County Commissioners decided to hold meetings with only three commissioners present as to shield them from public and media scrutiny so that they would supposedly be better able to have “strategic and tactical discussions.”
Before I get into this, I would like to state that while I recently blasted the Star Tribube for stupid fucking fluff pieces, I am going to personally thank them for bringing light to this important issue. So: THANK YOU. There, now that we have that out of the way:
In the article, ex-Burnsville City Council Member Liz Workman was quoted as saying, “You lose something the minute you have to notice a meeting and the press can attend. You don’t have the free flow of conversation that can take place in those kind of meetings.” While I am no expert on these matters, I’ve been to numerous city council meetings both informal and formal and I served on a state-wide board of directors for an association that I was involved with for years so I have been on both sides of this argument. While I agree that inviting others to a meeting can cause a disruption, there are two big differences between what I was involved in and what Liz Workman is claiming here:
1. The association I was involved in was not a government agency and thus my suggestion that we keep it private was something I was well within my rights to do. Unfortunately for Liz Workman purposefully circumventing sunshine laws (this is Sunshine Week afterall) should be grounds for removal by a torch and pitchfork mob.
2. I have attended numerous city council meetings, both informal and formal, and I really just don’t see how Workman can justify her comment that it wouldn’t be easy to bounce ideas of one another. I have rarely, only a handful of times to be honest, seen anyone in the audience verbally interact with the decision makers and even then only when they were directly asked by a councilmember for input. So I call a big huge bullshit on Workman there. If she’s talking about these supposed “strategic and tactical discussions” that are so secret and so important, well, your arguments aren’t very strong if you are afraid that a little advance notice is going to shut down whatever horseshit you’re trying to fling at the legislators.
Now, let’s take a step back from all of this and consider the source of this quote. According to one of my favorite regular Star Tribune commenters, “skeptic2209″, Liz Workman is just pulling even more shities at the county level than she was doing at the city level:
Burnsville’s HOC was planned in non-televised work sessions, with Liz Workman at the table. You can see how well that turned out. Open the meetings to the press and citizenry.
Interesting, eh? Perhaps that’s why she was recently honored with her own personalized seat for life at the Burnsville Performing Arts Center by the current city council members… Now that Burnsville has gotten rid of that hideous witch, the citizens of Dakota County are now stuck with her playing games.
What do you think of Workman’s suggestion that the Dakota County Commissioners should be purposefully meeting without quorum and without even rotating in the other members so that they can circumvent sunshine laws? If you have a torch or a pitchfork let us know below!