mountainecho.com

July 16, 2012

Editorial

Filed under: Uncategorized — waltblog @ 7:00 pm

I don’t know of any newspaper folks that are pleased anytime the State takes a step backwards in assuring that the public has knowledge and access to governmental meetings. But in the case of suspending the meeting notice requirements until they have the money to pay the district to do it, doesn’t bother me a whole lot.
In the first place I don’t know of any special district that would purposely fail to let the citizens they affect know when their meetings are or what will be discussed. It would be public relations suicide. Additionally the minute someone found out what the board in question passed or failed to pass, spent money on or failed to spend money on, the board and district would be tarred and feathered for trying to sneak it through.
While some boards have been better about following all requirements of the Ralph M. Brown Act than others, those that failed did it either for expediency or out of ignorance and generally try hard not to violate the law.
I’ve been on a board for over 30 years. I can remember when the state actually paid us for posting meetings. Then it went to promises that were only kept when the state felt they had the money. Now they aren’t even making the pretext of meeting their obligation.
I’m not complaining. Our district, like any other district could always use any money we can get. But the reality of the situation is that the manager typed up an agenda, posted one copy At a location where the public could see it on the premises, hung another in the post office when he went for the mail and actually made one extra stop downtown to post it in a third public place. It wasn’t and isn’t as if it was any real trouble.
I do have trouble with the state’s suspending the requirement that the board come out of closed session and report any decisions that were made.
The public has a right to know what goes on in every political district. Closed sessions exist for a few sensitive matters such as instructing their negotiator on what they want him or her to do in real estate transactions or labor negotiations, firing or disciplining someone, expelling students, or to discuss pending or ongoing litigation with their attorney. Those items should be dealt with in closed session, but once they have been done, settled, adjudicated, sold or purchased, the public has a right to know the decision.
I don’t believe our district boards or manager will have any problem in keeping the public informed in these areas, but I plan to track those sessions and ride the manager and board chairs until I get an answer. I will publish it if I get the answer and make it a public issue if I do not. The folks who pay taxes, fees or charges for service deserve to know what is going on.
On another matter I finally took the “Social Media” plunge and, while still little more than a novice, I am having a ball.
I’m getting back in contact with girls Donna and I sponsored for Burney Basin Day’s Queen back in the ‘80’s at Caldwell’s Corner, kids that worked for us back then, friends who we lost track of when we moved away and a wide variety of nice folks here in the area.
Anyone with facebook can “like” me at Walt@mountainecho. com. I’m doing my best to report any news that I get as it happens and am monitoring for news I wasn’t aware of.
It will really help me if you have pictures, video, or information on any news that you can share, be it social, such as new babies, engagements, marriages, anniversaries, and graduations, unexpected road closures, fires, accidents, crimes, or whatnot. I’ll be happy to give you credit if you want or withhold your name if you don’t. Of course I will do what I need to do so that I assure neither of us gets in a libel or slander situation.
To me social media appears to be an ideal partner to my web page and my printed edition. It is another way to inform everyone about what is going on or in some cases not going on.
Now is also a great time to check out mountainecho. com on the web if you haven’t already. There’s a lot of information on the site and a chance to comment on the stories.

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