I have never been able to understand this nonsense that governmental entities need to have "retreats" to discuss public issues.
The Missouri Southern State University Board of Governors held one such retreat, at the home of new president Bruce Speck, Friday.
Granted this is better than previous "retreats," which were held off-campus, at taxpayer expense, at resort sites, but the idea is still a poor one, particularly in these tough economic times.
If the board was meeting for hours every day, week after week, month after month, a break from the normal routine might be understandable, if still misguided. But that is not the case.
It sends the wrong message to the taxpaying public, when public business is discussed in such a setting.
I wrote the following post following MSSU Board's 2005 retreat to Branson:
The Missouri Southern State University Board of Governors continued to snub its nose at patrons, students, and employees by conducting business at a retreat in Branson.
Though it could be argued that nothing major was discussed at the meeting, which has become an annual tradition, that is beside the point. Public meetings should be held at a place that is convenient for the public to attend. It doesn't matter whether the public would actually attend, what matters is that it is afforded the opportunity to do so.
It is not easy for a civic-minded person who wants to know how the Board of Governors is running the university to drive from the Joplin area to Branson to attend a meeting. The reasons for having the retreat are sound...from a business standpoint. It makes sense for the board of directors of a business to head to some scenic spot for a get-together and to recharge the old batteries.
That being said, boards that conduct the taxpayers' business are different. Their meetings must be open and accessible. It doesn't matter if 1,000 people want to attend the meeting or just one, all anyone who wants to see the Board of Governors in action should have to do is drive to the college.