At the May 23rd Mount Pleasant Village Board meeting the subject of Open versus Closed sessions came to a head.  Two people (Anna Marie Clausen and Kelly Gallaher) even spoke during the Public Comment about it.

Folks, we recently had an election.  One of the major items discussed at length, during that campaign, was the practice that the previous majority of the Village of Mt. Pleasant Board was exercising TOO MANY CLOSED SESSIONS.  It was becoming a joke.  People were saying “can’t the board conduct meetings without closed sessions anymore?”  The then board was using this as a tool to prevent citizens from full disclosure.  Yes, citizens received a quick 30 second summary of any votes taken in open session but so much is lost in how decisions are arrived at and there is no way to prove one way or the other if a decision is, in fact, in the citizens best interest.  We simply must trust their supreme judgement.

Well, in my book, I say trust but verify.  Let the good and bad discussion be heard.  If the village attorneys don’t want to disclose information because of so called sensitivity, so be it.  That could be just as positive as negative.

Whether you use either of the counts (20 or 36 closed sessions in the last 2 years) sited by the two Public Commenters, Anna Marie Clausen or Kelly Gallaher, neither number is acceptable.  I personally applaud the voters of Mount Pleasant who voted for people who were serious about transparency in government.  To me, that means a lot.  It means we believe that what occurs in our local government is important enough to be heard and not hidden behind closed doors.  Using State Law which permits but does not require that closed sessions be exercised says more about the people on the board voting for closed or open sessions.  The majority of voters have indicated they want to hear what is going on.  I suggest the current village board “minority” get used it it.  It is refreshing.

Rees Roberts

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