To the editor:
The Kansas Open Meeting Act’s problem is the hole that’s big enough to allow Earth to pass through that will always allow the “he said/she said” conundrum that’s under way. Of what do I write? KOMA’s allowance of unnoticed meetings of majorities of legislative bodies.
KOMA states that a meeting only occurs if it has the “purpose of discussing the business or affairs of the agency or body.” Who will (after the fact) decide the purpose of the meeting? And at what cost? We will soon learn. The Shawnee County district attorney (it’s noted in every story that he’s a Democrat but only once that he’s taking on this responsibility after consensus consultation with the Republican Kansas attorney general) is investigating. That must mean that Shawnee County will pay for this investigation, which is occurring because of the clear violation of the intent of KOMA by Brownback. Shouldn’t Brownback be personally billed for this investigation? And why should the DA be subject to the abuse that he will face no matter what his decisions are regarding prosecution of various individuals?
California’s similar Brown Act (enacted 1953) solves this problem easily. It states that a meeting “includes any congregation of a majority of the members of a legislative body at the same time and place to hear (emphasis added), discuss, or deliberate upon any item that is within the subject matter jurisdiction of the legislative body.” Merely receiving information constitutes a meeting. When will Kansas come into compliance with this common-sense regulation that prohibits “smoke-filled-room” policymaking?