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Letter: Government business best done in public


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From: David Brown

Columbus

Received: Oct. 4

The last election sent a clear message to those that aspire to hold an elected office in this city. The people were tired of “backroom deals” and not having officials conduct business so all could see.

The former administration worked up until our new mayor was sworn in to try to make her unable to undo any of their “Vision” projects that were funded by a shell company, that they used to skirt the openness needed in government. This city has spent many millions of dollars on these projects, while at the same time, they were letting our buildings and infrastructure crumble. Lest we forget during this period the city actually ran a deficit of somewhere between $4 million and 10 million that we were never given a real accounting of why.

Our current mayor is trying to restructure government to take care of the many things we have and is trying to live within a real budget for what may be the first time in a long time. In reshaping the city government, there have been a few problems due to trying to change the culture and perceptions of how it operates. Some of these problems have been the result of the many new officeholders that were brought in and by some of them holding office for the first time.

It is very important that, during this transition, the appearance of impropriety, no matter how innocent, not be part of our government. As quoted in this paper “These kind of get-togethers have been going on for years” is proof enough that some people in office feel that as long as they meet in small enough groups, to not be illegal and also not public, they may do as they please. That is exactly what the last election was supposed to cure.

If there is a need for city and county officials to meet formally or informally, then hold a public function to discuss possible cooperation concerns and not hold a meeting in someone’s garage. I see nothing wrong with one representative each of city and county meeting for breakfast, lunch or dinner to discuss mutual projects that would be beneficial to both government units and be pitched to a full council meeting later; but to have five or six people meet in such a manner is not in the best interest of the city, county or the public.

To hold further “garage meetings” would call to question the judgment of those who continue the practice despite the mandate given in the last election.

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