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Meeting times are an obstacle to transparency

By Scott Tibbs, November 2, 2015

Note: I issued this press release last week as part of my campaign for city council.

One of the things I hope to accomplish, both as a candidate and if I am fortunate enough to be elected to the city council, is to focus attention on meeting times of city boards and commissions and encourage city government to hold those meetings at times when working people can attend. In fact, I mentioned this issue in my press release announcing my candidacy back in June and wrote about it a week later.

The Herald-Times ran several stories back in 2012 about meeting times in county government, especially focusing on the county commissioners, and endorsed my call in a guest editorial for more accessible meeting times. City government is much better than county government in this regard, but there are improvements to be made. According to the city's website, the following city boards and commissions meet during the 8 to 5 work day:

  • Board of Park Commissioners -- 4:00 p.m
  • Commission on Aging -- 4:30 p.m.
  • Utilities Service Board -- 5:00 p.m.
  • MPO Technical Advisory Committee -- 10:00 a.m.
  • MPO Policy Committee -- 1:30 p.m.
  • Bloomington Housing Authority Board -- 8:00 a.m.
  • Economic Development Commission -- 12:00 p.m.
  • Council for Community Accessibility -- 4:00 p.m.
  • Housing Trust Fund Board of Directors -- 3:30 p.m.
  • Bloomington Historic Preservation Commission -- Variable, often before 5:00 p.m.

It is a basic principle of open government that meetings need to be open to the public. In order for those meetings to be truly open, they need to take place at a time when most people can attend. Therefore, these meetings need to be moved to at least 5:30 p.m. and ideally to 6:00 p.m. or later. I urge the city council to fully commit to open government and transparency by making these meetings take place after the end of the normal work day.