“READERS FORUM” APRIL 28, 2019

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We hope that today’s “READERS FORUM” will provoke honest and open dialogue concerning issues that we, as responsible citizens of this community, need to address in a rational and responsible way.

HERE’S WHAT’S ON OUR MIND TODAY

 It has been well documented that the Weinzapfel Administration saddled the incoming Winnecke Administration with an unholy trilogy of unfinished business.   In a couple of days, we will re-publish some classic “IS IT TRUE” that will prove to be particularly on point on how many problems that former Mayor Weinzapfel created for Mr. Winnecke when he became Mayor of Evansville.  

WHAT’S ON YOUR MIND TODAY?

Todays “Readers’ Poll” question is: SHOULD THE CITY-COUNTY OBSERVER CONTINUE TO PUBLISH THEIR ‘IS IT TRUE” COLUMN?
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5 COMMENTS

    • Not sure if JethroBodine is bored, or just feels a need to post on a “Readers Forum” with stuff ALREADY answered per Indiana Code. You should research the subject matter (as I do) which shows that none of the above complaints about agendas or meeting video have merit

      While I agree that the agenda should have been posted (based on historical actions) online, if you refer to the Indiana Open Door policy there is no requirement for certain governmental agencies to publish their items in advance or online via a website. Unless you have personally asked to inspect the meeting agenda or draft minutes, complaining about the lack on a website means zero

      The Indiana Public Access Counselor has stated that in a number of published advisory opinions to both citizens and governmental units. The Open Door Law does not consider web site publication (for agenda, notice, or minutes) as official notice. A municipality may not rely on internet notice alone to constitute appropriate notice (per Advisory Opinion 14-FC-198)

      In Advisory Opinion 15-FC-211 the Public Access Counselor notes (in regards to access to draft versus final minutes) “It has long been the opinion of public access counselors that draft minutes are disclosable public records: Applying these principles of statutory construction, it is clear that draft or proposed minutes of public meetings are merely summaries of information received, not deliberative material. While there is naturally a concern about accuracy in draft or proposed minutes, there is no provision in the APRA that would make such information nondisclosable. It is always important, however, that the recipient of the information is notified that the draft is subject to change and approval of the appropriate person or governing body. In this way, disclosure is possible, but the concern about someone relying upon the draft or proposed minutes is minimized. Accordingly, it is my opinion that a copy of the Bureau’s unapproved draft minutes is a disclosable public record under the APRA”

      Luke Britt, Public Access Counselor, recently published Advisory Opinion 19-FC-3 in regards to a formal complaint filed in Knox County about violations of the Indiana Open Door Law (ODL) stating: Under the Open Door Law, the governing body of a public agency must give public notice of the date, time, and place of any meetings, executive sessions, or of any rescheduled or reconvened meeting at least 48 hours (excluding weekends and legal holidays) before the meeting as follows:

      The governing body of a public agency shall give public notice by posting a copy of the notice at the principal office of the public agency holding the meeting or, if no such office exists, at the building where the meeting is to be held, per Ind. Code § 5-14-1.5-5(b)(1)

      The notice provisions of the ODL do not require a public agency or governing body to publish notice of a public meeting or executive session in a newspaper. Granted, there are times where a public agency must provide notice of an event by publication, per Ind. Code § 5-3-1 thru 4. Examples of public agencies that are required to publish notice are an Area Plan Commission or Board of Zoning Appeals

      Under the ODL, if the governing body uses an agenda, the agenda must also be posted at the entrance to the meeting location before the meeting. Ind. Code § 5-14-1.5-4(a). The ODL does not, however, specify what agenda items are required. Even so, the statute specifically provides that “a rule, regulation, ordinance, or other final action adopted by reference to agenda item alone is void”

      This Office interprets Indiana Code section 5-14-1.5-4(a) to require those public agencies that regularly use an agenda to post one. In other words, if the Board, during the ordinary course of business, uses an agenda for its meetings, then the ODL requires the Board to post the agenda at the entrance of the meeting

      In a prior Advisory Opinion (14-FC-28) the Public Access Counselor advised: The legislature has crafted Ind. Code § 5-14-1.5-4(a) to require only those agencies regularly utilizing agendas to post one. In fact, if the public agency did not regularly use one, then they would not have to post one at all. Public agencies who post agendas are extending a courtesy to interested parties as to what may or may not be discussed during the open meeting

      CCO Editors and Ron: I found the following of interest for you in Advisory Opinion 07-FC-110 by Public Access Counselor,Karen Davis: In addition, the governing body shall deliver notice to all news media which deliver by January 1 an annual written request for such notices for the next succeeding calendar year to the governing body of the public agency. IC 5-14-1.5-5(b). Notice of regular meetings need be given only once each year, except that an additional notice shall be given where the date, time, or place of a regular meeting or meetings is changed. This subsection does not apply to executive sessions. IC 5-14-1.5-5(c)

      Also to CCO Editors and Ron, a topic discussed before, which is the ability or “right” of the public to address a governmental agency at a public meeting, was addressed by Public Access Counselor Heather Neal in Advisory Opinion 08-FC-149 and 10-FC-240. She writes that Indiana law only requires that public meetings be open, it does not require that the public be given the opportunity to speak. I.C. § 5-14-1.5-3 states “All meetings of the governing bodies of public agencies must be open at all times for the purpose of permitting members of the public to observe and record them” and “Indiana law does require a governing body to allow public testimony in certain instances (e.g. a hearing on a proposed budget), but as a general rule the ODL does not guarantee the right to speak at a meeting.” She wrote “While I would strongly encourage all governing bodies to adopt some method to allow the public to comment at meetings of the governing body and ensure that the procedure proceeds in a civilized manner” she also opined that it was her opinion that a governmental agency does not violate the ODL by not allowing the public to speak

      Currently the Public Access Counselor has published approximately 20 years of Advisory Opinions online. You may search for subject matter at:

      http://bit.ly/2PriTuZ

  1. Weinzapfel did not leave Winnecke a trilogy of unfinished task. They were both in on the mess from the beginning, the dirt didn’t stick to Winnecke as firmly as it did to Weinzapfel. They worked on this mess together and Weinzapfel took the fall. Winnecke is doing everything that Weinzapfel would have done but he’s being slicker than Jonathon. They both have a small core of individuals the same core that benefits at the expense of the rest of the population. They both used taxpayer dollars as welfare for unions and the arts and craft folks.

  2. I was fortunate to have met Senator Richard Lugar in Washington DC in his office many years ago when I was in ophthalmology and working on Medicare policy. He was both kind and attentive, and even had an aide take me to Congress to watch a vote that day. I will never forget that (and I still have the Congressional pass)

    This is a loss to not only Indiana but to America and the world. Senator Lugar was distinguished and respected, and the example we need today. I was not the same political party as Senator Lugar, but I never doubted his kindness and humility and his insights at the local level

    Senator Lugar was a lot more than simply a strong voice in foreign policy, Senator Lugar also revolutionized how counties were governed. As Mayor of Indianapolis in the 1960s, Lugar proposed what was then considered a virtually revolutionary concept in city-county governance, consolidating the many small cities and towns surrounding Indianapolis into a single governing body. Indianapolis was rewarded by increased funding from the government. The net effect was to change Indianapolis from a rather sleepy Indiana State Capitol city into a surging metropolis, the effect of which is seen today

    I ponder at his passing at where are the Richard Lugar’s of today? I am a lifelong Democrat and there have not been many Republican Senators I admired, but I did Senator Lugar. He stands out as we see no “Profiles in Courage” and a distinct lack of honor. We have sadly lost having those that represent us in Washington DC at no longer having a commitment to the well-being of the American citizens

    Godspeed and Rest In Peace, Senator Richard Lugar, and may we continue to learn from your wisdom and example

    https://wapo.st/2GFqhPx

    • I agree in toto with what Mr. Lockard wrote. Richard Lugar was a Rhodes Scholar who lost his senate seat in the Teabagger Wave of 2012. We traded a smart man who was respected across the aisle for the strident uninformed screaming we are now so accustomed to. He was a lodestar of sorts. They are few and far between.

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