Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Neosho council hides public business behind shroud of secrecy

If you look at Neosho Mayor Jeff Werneke's quotes in the article in the Tuesday Neosho Daily News, it's not hard to see that city officials are doing their best to keep the extent of the city's financial problems from the public by taking them behind closed doors and pretending that it can be done because it all revolves around that umbrella catchall word for public officials who want to hide from the public- personnel:

After an emergency closed session Saturday, Neosho Mayor Jeff Werneke said he and Mayor Pro Tem Richard Davidson would further research the city’s financial condition as it relates to personnel over the next week and a half, and present their findings to the council at the next meeting, slated for Dec. 1.

In an interview Tuesday afternoon, Werneke said these findings will likely be presented to the council during a closed session on Dec. 1, as they pertain to a personnel issue.

Sorry, Mister Mayor. When it comes to personnel, the Sunshine Law gives you the right to close a meeting for hiring, firing, promoting, or disciplining. It does not offer a blanket excuse to go behind closed doors, just because personnel is involved. If that were the case, you could take any piece of public business, shut the doors, and never have to face public scrutiny.

And what most public officials seem to forget is the Sunshine Law does not obligate a public body to go behind closed doors. It merely allows it that option. Sadly, most city councils, school boards, and other governmental units use every conceivable excuse to put as much of their meetings as possible out of the reach of the public.

The problems in the city of Neosho have come in large part because so many things have taken place in secret.


Anonymous said...

Just like the healthcare Bill, shrouded in mystery, to keep the public from raising hell.

Richard said...

I think this applies here as well.