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Shameful incompetence thwarts open government

By Scott Tibbs, November 21, 2011

It is a good thing that Planned Parenthood was not included in the $95,000 that the Monroe County Council distributed on November 9, but the shameful incompetence in advertising the meeting was unacceptable. The public deserves better.

I have been watching the county's social services funding process for the last three years, since the greedy folks at Planned Parenthood decided they "need" money from the county's social services funding program in addition to the corporate welfare they have gotten from the city every year (with one exception) since 1999.

The Monroe County Council's website advertised for several weeks that the council would be voting on the social service funding package on November 22. They actually voted on November 9. This is not acceptable and it should be illegal for the council to cast a vote on a date other than the one advertised on the county website. The public deserves better than this shameful incompetence because this is an affront to open government.

The legal requirement for advertising the meeting is that it be advertised in the newspaper. As far as I know, the meeting was technically "legally advertised" so there is not an issue with legality. (But there should be.) But once information is published on an official county website, and the wrong information is not changed for weeks, why would anyone check to make sure the posted information is not in error? Why would we not assume the posted date is correct?

The Indiana Code needs to change to match the reality of the digital age. This would include advertising meetings on the county website, and a requirement that all posted information on meeting times, dates and schedules votes be accurate. If this is not the case, the votes should be illegal.

I understand that mistakes happen. Posting the wrong date is one thing. Posting the wrong date and leaving the wrong date on the website for weeks, misleading the public and thereby depriving people of the opportunity to attend the meeting in person is unacceptable. This was a failure not only of the staff, but of each and every member of the county council for not checking the site.

A mistake is forgivable. Not correcting the mistake is not. Honestly, how difficult is it to check the website and make sure it is right, and correct the error it if not? This was a major failure. The Democrats (who have complete control over county government) need to answer for this in 2012. We'll see if the Republicans have the intelligence and/or courage to attack them on this issue in 2012. My bet is they will not.