Backtracking on Transparency in Arnold

17 May

Since the April election returned a regime-friendly council to office, there have been several moves intended to reduce government transparency in Arnold. The new council did not waste time; these actions were taken at the April 18 meeting. The first was, as I have chronicled, to reappoint Randy Crisler to office after disclosing his name at almost the last minute. Second, in closed session at that same meeting, the council voted to waive the recently instituted requirement to provide agendas for closed sessions. This requirement was implemented after the regime used a stealth closed session maneuver to attempt to remove Ken Moss from office. Don Ron Counts made Moss an offer he couldn’t refuse, although Moss did refuse to resign quietly, and the Boone fiasco followed. The motion to stop providing closed session agendas was offered by new councilwoman Mary Coleman, a troubling sign that she has been assimilated. Notably, though, this vote was a mere formality, because city attorney Bob Sweeney decided unilaterally not to provide an agenda for the April 18 meeting. The council vote gave Sweeney after-the-fact approval of his actions.

Other anti-transparency moves, again done in closed session (inappropriately so), took place at this meeting. Ken Moss describes them here during the May 2 meeting (listen from 36:39 until 37:11):

Here’s his statement from the meeting minutes (p. 4):

“I do not approve that when we also went into our closed session that we also voted to not record closed sessions anymore and we also made a vote to not send out the attorney bills per email to the council members. I don’t agree with that but I also want to put it on the record that I don’t feel those were closed session items and should have taken place in public.”

This last part is correct. The Leader had an editorial not long ago about abuse of closed sessions. One would think the paper might object to the above. Not everything that happens in a closed session is secret, just because it happened in closed session, and conducting non-eligible activity in such a session is a Sunshine Law violation. Certain information from these meetings, even if eligible for closed session, is public record. In Perryville, MO, summaries of closed session activities, minus anything truly confidential, are published in the paper (at least they were on this occasion). The city (and the Leader) need to provide more, not less information about the council’s closed sessions.

And what’s this about the attorney’s bills? One of the main objections to the continued employment of Sweeney are the big bills he racks up. I guess he doesn’t want the council members to see these bills without going out of their way to acquire them. Maybe he doesn’t want the new council members to see them, start to ask questions, and waver in their loyalty to the regime as a result.

All of these moves bring up the old question, “What have you got to hide?” There is much, it seems.

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