Columbia Countys Board of Education will meet Tuesday night in Appling, one of two monthly sessions in which elected officials do the publics business.
The agenda for each meeting is posted on the previous Friday. Concerned citizens, then, have advance notice of issues that will be discussed, and can plan to attend the meeting if a particular item draws their interest.
Just lately, though, theres been a problem: Trustee Lee Muns, normally the boards top advocate of open government, has uncharacteristically kept citizens and fellow board members in the dark by adding last-minute items to the agenda.
Its getting to be a bad habit. And it should stop.
Heres why: Citizens have the right to know in advance what issues will be discussed at public meetings. The school board and all public agencies are required by law to publish their agendas at least 24 hours before they meet.
For the last couple of School Board sessions, however, Muns has sidestepped that advance notice by adding new items to the agenda at the start of the meeting itself.
Muns often fights to raise legitimate issues with other trustees, and hes done a good job of arguing for accountability from the system. But he has never been prevented from speaking his mind, so theres little excuse for last-minute additions to the board agenda unless hes trying to catch fellow trustees - and the public - flat-footed.
That may seem clever, but it doesnt promote either honest dialogue or open government. Except in unusual circumstances, no member of a public body should tack items onto their published agenda at the last minute. If they try to do so, their fellow elected officials - who must agree to any additions - should find the backbone to just say no.
The Columbia County News-Times ©2013. All Rights Reserved.