Above: Making the case in favor of official secrecy, Mr. Smith and Mr. Jones. "Believe me, it's for your own protection."
- The best defense: Do the public's business in public - Salt Lake Tribune Editorial
Note to all members of Utah’s public boards, commissions, councils and committees: If it is among your duties to make decisions on public policy, or even to recommend decisions to be made by others, there will come a time when one of those decisions will tick somebody off. Somebody with a lawyer.
At that point, you are likely to find that the best defense you can offer is that you reached your decision in the manner prescribed by law. And that you can document it. That means, among other things, that all briefings, deliberations and, most importantly, votes should be carried out in accordance with the state’s open records and open meetings laws.
Thus it is troubling to learn that one of the state’s more obscure bodies, the Defined Contribution Risk Adjuster Board, has apparently pestered the Attorney General’s Office until the lawyers broke down and clued the board’s members in on a loophole in the state’s Open and Public Meetings Act. (The sequence of events sounds like asking Mom for six cookies. Then two. Then half of a cookie. Then a cookie you don’t really like. Until she gives in just to make you hush.) ...
... As hot an issue as health insurance is, and will be, any ruling the RAB makes is likely to upset someone. And if any of those rulings are made in a way that violates the law, those challenging it will have been handed the best legal weapon they could hope for.
Follow the law. It’s for your own protection. And ours.
This is an issue never far from the hearts of newspaper editors or, apparently, public officials. The following entries are just from the first page of my daily Google News search:
- Open meetings are best policy - Ithaca (N.Y.) Journal Editorial
- Open meetings law protects public trust in local government - Jackson (Tenn.) Sun Editorial
- Is Metro Airport board incompetent, sneaky or stupid? - Detroit Free Press Editorial
- Legislating in secret hurts state - Milford (Mass.) Daily News Editorial
- City council remains secretive - Rapid City (S.D.) Journal Editorial
- Open meetings case still strong - Memphis Commercial Appeal Editorial
|1.||Did Susan Powell’s brother-in-law hide her body?|
|2.||Living Traditions Festival opens in Salt Lake City|
|3.||Agnetha Faltskog reflects on ABBA, releases new solo album|
|4.||Weekend Express: The top 9 things happening in Utah|
|5.||Shaping Sound: The dance company that TV built|
|6.||Utah Valley University set to become largest school in the state|
|7.||Frances Monson, wife of Mormon church leader, dies|
|8.||Monson: On the sideline coaching is where Jerry Sloan belongs|
|9.||Two Sugar House bars linked by history|
|10.||Fighting the feds|