February 1, 2008

Wide Open Spaces?

Lorraine Collins is a free-lance writer whose work appears regularly in the Black Hills Pioneer. We're pleased that she's given permission for us to use this piece.

We out here in the west have liked to think of ourselves as enjoying wide open spaces, and being people of open hearts and open minds, open to new ideas. But for some strange reason, we seem to have quite a bit of difficulty grasping the idea that government needs to be open, too.

Our state constitution still says that a simple majority of the legislature can close the entire legislature to the public and the media and do whatever it wants to in secret. There was an attempt to modify that last year, with Amendment F, which would have required a two-thirds majority to close the legislature, but the Amendment failed because it also included a lot of other things people didn’t like. (I don’t think it was ever explained why the legislature should be closed at all.)

A person who was a legislative page in the 1960’s told me that one of a page’s duties in those days was to stand in the hall to keep the public from coming into the committee room to see members at work. Thank goodness that has changed. But there are still frequent complaints about boards and commissions violating the open meetings laws.

Read the entire article...
Not Really the Wide Open Spaces
by Lorraine Collins, a free-lance writer from Spearfish.

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