26 February 2010 at 1:51:02 PM
I"m a little fed up today, frankly. Yes, I'm sure I sound negative, but in my opinion, who wouldn't? I go pretty regularly to government meetings or get the audio to listen to. Why? Because, at least at this point in my life, I'm interested in seeing what the elected government officials that work for me are doing. And any citizen, in my book, doesn't have to be relegated to merely an observer with no control over what goes on. In fact, sometimes I get a little distressed that more people in this county of over 7000 people don't show up to open meetings. I wonder why, for example, the government or social studies teachers at the high school don't get their students involved in civics. It's pretty much the same people who show up to any given meeting; it's good they show up, but it's such a small subset. I would imagine, secondarily, that a lot of people depend on the ofificlal newspaper, the Glen Rose Reporter newspaper, to read about what happens at government meetings, and that, again, is great. It may be that people cannot attend due to work conflicts or other reasons that are personal, and it also may be that a lot of people are involved behind the scenes rather than attending meetings.
I've been wondering for a while why, in the case of the city, so much goes on that isn't in the public eye or discussed thoroughly at city meetings or is rushed through without a lot of detailed discussion that the public can be privy to. I'm not talking about things that can only be discussed on a closed session, like real estate or personnel issues or economic development issues that involve business transactions re: real estate or incentives. I don't fully understand the bidding or rfp process and why so many times people seem to be given contracts without competitive bids or why there isn't discussion of why one bid is chosen over another. Maybe that's how it's supposed to be. I have to say I like Somervell County's process of opening the bids in public and logging them, even though the actual looking through is done not in open session. If I were a vendor, that's how I would want it. It may be that there doesn't have to be an open bidding process on items that would be below 25,000, so deciding on a consultant to do things for Oakdale isn't relevant. Again, I am not going to pretend to be knowledgable on bidding, I just know what I like.
That said, I certainly don't think I should have to go to a private organization's meetings, even if held publicly, in order to find out about city business that doesn't fall into executive session categories. I use the example, right now, about the signage that a private entity is developing, apparently at the behest of Billy Huckaby of the CVB, which entity is of the city, and he is an employee of the city. Apparently he had some discussion, in executive session, about this signage, which seems to me to be in violation of open meetings law. So I read about the signage in the smaller newspaper which was only incidentally given to me to read, which talks about some group taking it on and THEN going, hat in hand, to ask for funding, after it's a done deal, all without the public being aware of what's going on. And one of the group leaders tells me, via this online news site, that I should go attend his club's meeting if I want to find out what is going on. Nope. That's just wrong. I don't disagree that there may be matters that are handled without having to have city council involved in every step, but certainly that should be part of reports given regularly to inform the public. Not done in executive session-I mean, what else might city council talk about that isn't executive session issues that really should have been talked about in open session? And the private group doesn't represent citizens. It's completely backwards to find out what the city is doing secondhand, expect that citizens should try to find out by attending all kinds of private group meetings to keep up on stuff INSTEAD OF IT BEING PART OF GOVERNMENT MEETINGS.
Seems to me that there is a certain amount of that stuff going on, where the public is not informed about actions being taken until, almost done, an entity approaches city council and asks for funding. Shouldn't it be that city council tells the public about this so that people can be involved in the process and informed in plenty of time to express an opinion? And actions not be discussed behind closed doors?
P.S. One of the people involved in the private group whose meetings are held publicly told me I was spreading gossip. That's exaclty my point. When a city does not conduct it's business according to the rules, and openly and instead hopes that people somehow attend a club meeting to hear about items that should be discussed openly, that city opens itself up to gossip and potential misinformation. That is the whole point of open meetings and public information, so that no citizen has to be in the dark and hope that circumstance outside of a governmental meeting will somehow inform.
P.P.S altered the headline a bit as I realized that guys might construe the orginal title "private club" differently than I had intended
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