Saturday, November 16, 2013

"Executive session", "behind closed doors", or "meeting in secret"?

There are public records and kinds of discussions that school board members should have in secret.  Those records and those discussions enjoy exception under the law; they are an exception to your right to know how your power and resources are being spent.  Everything else is public knowledge.

There is the spirit of a law, and then there is the letter of the law.  The letter of the law is under constant revision as government lawyers find new and different ways for their clients (politicians and public servants) to hide records and close meetings.

The only protection of the people's interests is the trustworthiness of politicians and public servants.  You have to believe they won't ignore the law when they meet in secret.

When it comes to protecting the public interests in, in secret meetings, "trusting" politicians and public servants runs a far distant second to actual recordings of those meetings.

The first step in holding politicians and public servants accountable for what they do in secret, is to insist that they record the meetings.  The law does not prevent the recording of meetings in secret, the allows the not recording of meetings in secret.

Which begs a question; who should decide whether the APS School Board will record their meetings in secret,

  •  the  School Board, or 
  • the community members they serve?

The terms of public in-servitude are the prerogative of the people, not of their servants.

There really is only one reason to hide the ethically redacted truth, and that is to escape the consequences of telling the truth.

When asked to describe a hypothetical conversation that is both; in the public best interests and, of which the public best interests are best served by ignorance, and most importantly, is not already provided for in the law, they are hard pressed for an illustrative example.

Bodies that will not allow records to be created,  those who do not insist that records be created as a matter of course, are not willing to be candid, forthright and honest about their public service in meetings in secret.  They are unwilling to tell the truth about their public service.

There is disappointingly little outrage in the press over what goes on in meetings in secret from any public interest oversight.

a mild or pleasant word or phrase that is used 
instead of one that is unpleasant or offensive.
Euphemisms for meetings in secret from stakeholders;
  • the school board likes to call them executive sessions 
  • the establishment media likes to call them meetings behind closed doors.
Any way you look at it, they are meeting in secret.

The worst thing that any politician or public servant can do
is anything they do in unnecessary secret
from the people they serve.

photo Mark Bralley

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