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Opinion

Opinion

Editorial: What meeting?

Legislation currently under discussion would seriously undermine the Kansas Open Meetings Act.

February 22, 2013

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Riddle: When is a meeting not a meeting?

Answer: “The term ‘meeting’ shall not include: (a) Occasions when a majority of the membership of a body or agency subject to this act attends a social gathering or otherwise gathers so long as the body or agency does not deliberate specific matters that, at the time of the exchange, the participating members expect to come before the body or agency at a later date; and (b) gatherings of any political party caucus of either house of the legislature.”

In other words, the Kansas Open Meetings Act is hereby totally neutered, under the wording offered up in House Bill 2336 by the House Judiciary Committee. Similar action is proposed in a companion piece, Senate Bill 200.

The proposals are interpreted as a response to last year’s meetings at Cedar Crest, where legislators gathered at the governor’s invitation. An investigation ensued to determine whether the open meetings act was violated. There were seven meetings, mainly involving Republican lawmakers, and it was a Shawnee County Democratic district attorney who opened the probe. There was no prosecution, although the investigator alleged “technical” violations of the law and noted many of those participating knew little about the law.

With that dust settled, the lawmakers now are proposing to make any social event a place where any and all issues can be discussed without the public being informed. This would apply to all officials covered by the open meetings law, not just legislators — although they obviously are giving themselves a specific exception.

The Senate bill would allow such conversations as long as they did not lead to formulation of policy or to a vote.

It’s already difficult enough to police discussions by public officials outside their convened sessions. These proposals practically invite officials to thumb their noses at the law and easily let them keep the public out of the process through which they arrive at decisions — especially decisions on issues that officials may prefer to settle without being heard and seen.

It’s a bad idea. OK, you folks under the Capitol dome. You’ve vented. Now get back to work on behalf of the public instead of working against the people who elected you.

Comments

appleaday 1 year, 7 months ago

It's going to be interesting when, sometime in the future, we have a Democratic governor and a better balance of power in the Kansas legislature, and all the laws the extreme Republicans are passing are used by the Democrats.

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tomatogrower 1 year, 7 months ago

They will probably find a way to blame it on the Democrats, like the recession and the sequestration. Their lies are getting harder and harder to cover and spin. People are starting to notice.

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Richard Heckler 1 year, 7 months ago

That's why these new bills should not pass.

The Brownback dictatorship rolls on subverting any type of enforcement that gets in the way of ALEX Brownback.

The right wing party does not need this bill. They have ALEX which subverts all open meetings regulation.

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just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 1 year, 7 months ago

Ah, the smell of secret government government in the morning.

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tomatogrower 1 year, 7 months ago

Oh yes, if you don't like doing your job the way you should, change the rules. You don't like to have the checks and balances provided by the courts, which by the way was created by the founding fathers who the teapublicans have raised to sainthood, all you have to do is change the constitution. Can't get enough of each other's company at committee meetings or want to plot against the people of Kansas? Change the law. Can't get enough people to convert to your religion? Take over the government and enact laws based on your religion. Don't like your workers to have any say in their treatment? Make laws to get rid of unions. WAKE UP KANSAS!!! THIS IS NOT DEMOCRACY, REPRESENTATIVE OR OTHERWISE.

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Keith 1 year, 7 months ago

To the editor(s): Do you now regret your years of support of these politicians? Have you changed party affiliation in disgust? If not, it's all window dressing.

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verity 1 year, 7 months ago

Our current administration and legislature are either idiots or think they will be in power forever. Or, more likely, both. Once power is accrued it is rarely given up. Consider what happened to the power accrued to the presidency by George Bush. Now the right is complaining that Obama is using that same power.

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George_Braziller 1 year, 7 months ago

I think they're working to help assure they'll be in power forever. And if they aren't in power, give themselves the laws and regulations they need to hamstring anyone not part of the "club" so they can regain power.

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Richard Heckler 1 year, 7 months ago

Hundreds expected in Topeka to defend Kansas from this extreme right wing invasion this Saturday. Many items are threatened.

http://ks.aft.org/press/hundreds-kansans-converge-capitol-defend-state

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Cant_have_it_both_ways 1 year, 7 months ago

This is a news report. Nothing has been proven. Anyone can say anything and some boob trying to make a name for themselves in the print world will pick it up and run. Then many on this site see it as fact. As Gomer Pyle would say... Shame, Shame, Shame.

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bad_dog 1 year, 7 months ago

No. Gomer would say: "Surprise, surprise, surprise..."

As for the balance of your comment; at least you're consistently incorrect. I guess that level of predictability should be comforting, albeit in a bizarre fashion.

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jonas_opines 1 year, 7 months ago

Oh yes, quite consistent indeed.

Conservative or Republican Good Anybody else Bad

Can't Have it Both Ways' posting philosophy in a nutshell.

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bad_dog 1 year, 7 months ago

...in a "nutshell".

An on point opine re: both appropo container naming conventions and the dimensions required to contain Cant's posting philosophy.

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Joe Hyde 1 year, 7 months ago

Meetings held in secrecy is how ALEC conferences are held. And ALEC-influenced (and Koch supported) conservative Republican legislators now hold the majority in the Kansas Legislature.

So it should come as no suprise that the hatchlings want to walk and quack like their goose-steppin' daddies.

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Centerville 1 year, 7 months ago

This is all because Chad Taylor wanted to make a name for himself without having to do much. And failed. Big. Time.

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just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 1 year, 7 months ago

Yea, that worthless nothing went and blew the lid off of some perfectly illegal meetings the general public has no right to know about. What good's a government that can't do all of its business in secret?

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