Tuesday, September 11, 2012

The Minutes Are Back, The Minutes Are Back

Last night, the Shawnee City Council voted to bring back detailed minutes of council meetings.

This is a victory for transparency and democracy.  The city will also keep the audio feed of the meetings and the ability for people to listen to the audio after the meeting.

Now individuals will once again be able to search the minutes to basically find out what happened, when and who said what.  The current "action" minutes (mistakenly called summary minutes) were virtually useless for anyone wanting to find out what had transpired at any meeting.

The mayor indicated that in the past he had found the detailed minutes to be helpful in researching various items, and yours truly brought out statements made in November of 2010 by Jeff Vaught on how useful he had found the detailed minutes to be.  That was ironic, since on Feb 14, 2011 Vaught then became one of the council members who had voted to eliminate the detailed minutes.

Anyway, Ward I Council Member Dan Pflumm made the motion and Ward IV Council Member Michelle Distler seconded it and when the vote came to bring the detailed minutes back, it passed 6 to 1.  Jim Neighbor, Ward 1 Council Member apparently has problems with open government. (More on that in a separate post).  Ward III Council Member Dawn Kuhn was absent.  She was a strong proponent of not bringing back the detailed minutes.  She has in the past followed the guidelines of the League of Kansas Municipalites, which are not citizen friendly.  Based on previous council meetings, the one thing we were probably spared was probably 30-60 minutes of her ramblings.

I will contact the city manager to find out when the mechanism will be in place for the date the detailed minutes will resume.

Sidebar:  Ironically, earlier yesterday it was announced and reiterated by the mayor that Shawnee had received an A+ rating in transparency from the Sunshine Review.  It must be remembered that their ratings are based on city websites linking to specific areas (agendas, minutes, government officials etc).  The ratings don not reflect whether certain info (i.e minutes) are themselves transparent.  Action minutes are definitely not transparent.