Consider a recent controversy involving Fort Wayne City Council Republicans, who hold a 5-4 majority. They met in a “caucus” this year before a regular council meeting to discuss “recommendations” for appointing council members to certain positions. Council Republicans have been doing this for years, with little attention being paid.
But this year, council Democrats complained, and a new open-government group has filed a complaint with the public access office: When those caucusing also constitute a majority of the legislative body in question, the recommendations in the private meeting become de facto public policy decisions.
The complaint has merit. Whatever the ruling on the letter of the law, the practice certainly violates the spirit of the law.
Without the law, we wouldn't even be talking about this. With it, public awareness is raised, and public opinion can be mobilized. The practice is likely to change, with more open government being the result. Citizens will know more about how their business is being conducted.
That's not too bad for a toothless law.
The need for open government is one idea that all media can agree on...