Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Private meeting deserved protest


This is exactly why you beat Mr. Griggs a while back and this is the type of action that the people are looking for. So what your the lone ranger on many points of contention at this point, sometimes you have friends but in all many people are egging you on in private. Hi HO Silver and away

Our Voice

Private meeting deserved protest

Burlison made right decision to criticize pre-council gathering.

November 5, 2008

Springfield City Councilman Doug Burlison does not have the political savvy or polish of some other members of the city's governing body.

And for that, we're often thankful.

Burlison chided some council colleagues after five of them last week appeared to hold a private, short, secret meeting -- an apparent violation of the state Sunshine Law because five members amounts to a quorum of the nine-member council.

Using the sharp words "colluding ahead of time," Burlison said the hushed huddle happened prior to the Oct. 27 council meeting.

It surely didn't win him any popularity points with his council colleagues, but they need to not only hear him but heed him, too.

Most insulting is that the little pre-meeting was designed to try to stop a matter from being aired that many city residents had come to the chambers to hear discussed: a ban of guns in city parks.

Adding injury to that insult was that the huddle took place right on the council dais -- in front of a crowd of citizens waiting to hear the gun ban discussed.

The five huddling council members were Cindy Rushefsky, Dan Chiles, Mary Collette, John Wylie and Mayor Tom Carlson (who technically is a councilman, too).

At least some of them summoned City Attorney Dan Wichmer to join the group, asking how they could table the agenda item that would trigger the gun ban discussion: a list of legislative priorities for 2009.

Wichmer -- to his credit -- advised the group to stop speaking about the matter privately and to simply start the meeting, call for the legislative priorities to be tabled and explain why. Eventually, no discussion on the matter was held.

Burlison said the official meeting started late because of what he calls the "powwow." Records show the 7 p.m. meeting started at 7:04.29.

No, it wasn't a long huddle, but it shouldn't have happened.

Wichmer said no Sunshine violation occurred because only three of the five were discussing the tabling of the legislative priorities: Carlson, Rushefsky and Wylie. The other two talked about how many people in the audience were concerned about a pet issue.

Still, even if Wichmer's description of the separate discussions is accurate, the private talks had a common theme: the audience waiting to interact with council.

Too bad that never got to happen. We're glad that at least one member of the council recognizes that as a problem.

This editorial is the view of the News-Leader Editorial Board.

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