Monday, August 27, 2007

Public Access Counselor Says City Did Not Violate the Open Door Law

The PAC has issued an opinion on my formal complaint regarding the July 24th city council meeting where numerous citizens, including myself, were locked out of the meeting. The PAC states:
I cannot fid the Council violated the spirit or letter of the ODL by holding its July 24 meeting in Room 200.

There are a couple of statements I want to address from the opinion that I consider to be faulty logic on the part of the PAC. I will specifically address city attorney Tim Manges' response to my complaint in another post. Suffice to say that his is an inaccurate portrayal of events. Don't forget this is the same guy that wrote a letter to the News Sentinel saying Mike Sylvester never sent a list of questions to the city even though there is ample proof that he did. More on that later, let's start with the PAC's opinion:
I further have no evidence the Council knew or should have known the meeting room would not have accommodated the crowd for the July 24 meeting.

The PAC cannot be serious here. Not only was this going to be the final Harrison Square vote, but the council knew the anti-smoking ban crowd was going to be there to speak as well. There were at least 50 people (including the Deputy Mayor) that overflowed into the Omni room at the previous meeting where the public was allowed to speak - mainly due to the anti-smoking ban crowd. And don't forget the council was going to discuss the property-to-income tax options also. I know the PAC is not located in Fort Wayne and probably doesn't know the first thing about local politics but her statement above is way off base.

The PAC also addresses previous precedent although she didn't use the precedent I wrote about here that was clearly applicable. Instead she chose an opinion that is only marginally applicable:
The latter opinion (03-FC-138) is more applicable here. There, the Counselor refused to find a violation of the letter or the spirit of the ODL when the public agency held its meeting in its regular meeting location and did not move the meeting when the room was filled to capacity. There the public agency provided a public address system so those in the overflow area could hear the meeting.

How is that applicable? In that case there was an overflow area and they could still hear the meeting. In this case there wasn't an overflow area whatsoever and we couldn't hear or see anything that was happening.

I think it's a sad day when advocates of open government cannot count on the PAC to hold government accountable...

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