Decatur officials giving retreat more notice

Posted by Dan Whisenhunt November 20, 2013

Icon_GovernmentSo yesterday I climbed onto my high horse to passively scold our city officials.

I was concerned about an upcoming joint-retreat between city commissioners and school board members. The retreat will be this Friday, Nov. 22 and it begins at 8 a.m.

I said the city hadn’t advertised the meeting well, and that its distant venue in Mansfield, Ga. was inconvenient for interested parties (including myself) who would like to attend.

Shortly after my post ran, I got a corrected meeting notice from City Manager Peggy Merriss, stating that the meeting will be held at Charlie Elliott Wildlife Center is 543 Elliott Trail, not 54 Elliott Trail. The city also posted notice of the meeting on its website.

I’d like to thank the city for being responsive to the concerns I raised yesterday. There are a few concerns that haven’t been addressed, however.

I didn’t get any indication that the city would record the meeting for people who can’t attend. I realize that there are logistical challenges to recording a meeting that begins at 8 a.m. and ends at 5 p.m. There are logistical challenges to driving to Mansfield, Ga. on a Friday, too.

I’m glad the agenda is posted on the website, but it’s too vague. Adding some information would at least help people decide whether it’s worth the trouble of attending.

Overall, it’s a good response and made in good faith. I dig it.

I’d like to briefly address a couple of readers who left comments about my initial article. I understand that there are a lot of nits to pick in this world, and a boring retreat between city and school officials hardly seems worth a mention. Besides, the commenters said, wouldn’t the school board and commissioners benefit from a little privacy?

I try to be responsive to my readers, but on this point I simply cannot disagree more. The people attending this retreat are elected officials. If they don’t feel comfortable talking about these issues in public, they are in the wrong line of work.

There are legal justifications for closed-door meetings, called executive sessions under the state’s Open Meetings Act. This retreat must be an open meeting, with proper notice given. The retreat meets the bare minimum legal requirements to be in compliance with OMA, but I expect better.

I suppose it would be more diplomatic for me to give the city a pass. The city upheld the letter of this law, if not the spirit of OMA. But when I think about ignoring the little things, it makes me wonder what else I’m willing to ignore?

Decatur’s government works pretty well for the most part. The city itself is proof of that. I just want to help keep it that way, is all.

About Dan Whisenhunt

Dan Whisenhunt is editor and publisher of Decaturish.com. https://www.linkedin.com/in/danwhisenhunt

View all posts by Dan Whisenhunt

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