I said in the press release announcing my candidacy for city council that when it comes to city boards and commissions, if I am elected I will “introduce legislation to mandate that all such meetings take place no earlier than 5:30 p.m.”
To me, this is a basic principle of open government. If we are going to have meetings be “open to the public” then the meetings should be held at a time when most people can attend. Holding meetings in the middle of the typical 8 to 5 work day either excludes people from attending altogether or forces them to take benefit time to cover attending a meeting. It places the actions of local government under a cloud of darkness.
This is not acceptable. City government should endeavor to make sure that everything it does is done completely in the public’s eye with as much opportunity for the public to observe as possible. The Herald-Times covers city government, but there is only so much time that city reporters can spend at meetings, and they may not cover details that are important to many members of the public. This is not a criticism; it is simply recognition of reality.
This is why making it possible for more eyes to be on city government, especially the eyes of average citizens, should be a top priority for city government. If the work being done by these boards and commissions is important, then there should be no objection to making the meetings completely open to the public at times when the public can attend.
Whether I win or lose, this is something that needs to happen. The citizens of Bloomington should demand that our city government leaders fully embrace transparency by holding meetings when working people can attend them.