So nice to come across someone else’s post that’s about one of the things on my list of topics to get to. Open Records is a blog I’ve mentioned before. Leslie Graves and Joshua Meyer have done a consistently good job of reporting on these things, and The Pros and Cons of Open Meetings is true to form.
I’ll offer a brief comment on one aspect before I leave you to read their article. One of the reasons given, by an official who participates in the meetings, for not broadcasting open meetings on cable was “that meetings should not be taped because they are an opportunity to ‘not really worry about what we are saying.’”
I really do understand, and support, the need policy makers have to be able to have free flowing discussion without having to monitor every word they say before they say it. A public meeting, however, is not the appropriate venue for that. There are certainly work-arounds: tabling that particular matter until the next meeting; or taking a brief recess to allow board members to think over the issues and what they want to say or what questions they want to ask.
I certainly want all the people who set the rules by which I’m to live–from the city council right up to Congress–to have the time they need to educate themselves, ask stupid questions, make stupid comments, in the context of private conversations. But when it comes to public meetings, the more open the better.