Let the sunshine in | IN OUR OPINION
March 30, 2012 · 8:50 AM
When is just enough not enough?
Right now, in the city of Bainbridge.
Concerns were raised at this week’s council meeting over the recent meetings of an ad hoc committee created by the council to work on the hiring of a new city manager.
Though members of the ad hoc committee have given the full council regular updates of their work, including the review of potential firms that could be hired to find a new manager, Councilman Bob Scales criticized the group for doing its work in secret, in meetings that are not open to the public.
Unfortunately, the state Open Public Meetings Act is not broad enough to require that all meetings of council-created committees be open to the public.
Instead, the law requires that meetings must be open only when a committee is doing work on behalf of the council, such as conducting a hearing, taking testimony or public comment, or exercising decision-making power.
Given the great suspicion of some in the community on the activities of city officials, and elected officials in particular, the city would do well than to just merely meet the letter of the law.
The Bainbridge City Council should show citizens that it has nothing to hide, and open all of its committee meetings to the public.
Sure, there will be some inconvenience to city officials. They will have to give notice of committee meetings, take minutes, and allow the public the chance to watch as they talk about the public’s business.
Accommodating those minor inconveniences, however, is well worth the trouble, as it would help dispel the distrust and suspicion that now exits, right or wrong.
It’s long been said that sunshine is the best disinfectant. The Bainbridge council should immediately adopt a policy that ensures greater access to the workings of government, and open all of its committee meetings to the public it has been elected to serve.