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Archive for Thursday, May 16, 2013

40 years ago: Commissioners disagree on schedule, argue for open meetings

May 16, 2013

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From the Lawrence Daily Journal-World for May 16, 1973:

Open meetings were the main topic at a recent meeting of the Lawrence City Commission. Commissioners, in strong disagreement about the schedule of their meeting times, gave first reading to an ordinance declaring the second Tuesday of each month as the time for a 7:30 p.m. meeting, but the group retained their 2 p.m. Tuesday meeting times as well. Included in the discussion was the long-standing tradition of commissioners having a "pre-meeting meeting" over lunch to prep themselves for the public afternoon meeting. Commissioner Jack Rose opened the debate with the comment, "If you really want to get public participation you ought to stop having private meetings and start hashing it all out in public." Rose, who said he functioned much better in the afternoon than in the evening, moved to begin all meetings at 1 p.m. and also to eliminate the traditional "lunch meetings" that had been taking place. "I think what people want is open meetings," Rose said, adding that the commission was not "doing anything that shouldn't be exposed to the light of day." His motion for all meetings being in the afternoon failed for lack of a second, but Commissioner Fred Pence then moved to incorporate the suggestion of 1 p.m. meetings with one night meeting per month. However, this motion also failed, with Rose opposing the night meeting and two other commissioners, John Emick and Mayor Nancy Hambleton, voting against it as well. In defense of the lunch meetings, Mayor Hambleton explained, "We've tried doing without (a pre-meeting discussion) and we were coming to commission meetings without enough information." The original compromise package of a mixture of evening and afternoon meetings eventually passed 3-2.

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