Yesterday, during the Prescott City Council meeting, the discussion got rather heated at times. So much so, that at the end, a lady got up to say, "I want to say, that I'm very disappointed with several members of the council. I think that you deserve better," she said, looking around the room, "to hear people, the citizens and the community's opinion... I would like to see the council learn a little bit more of civil dialogue and respect."
However, is it possible that some of the behavior during yesterday's council meeting might potentially be considered Open Meeting Law violations?
Last December, it was revealed that the Mayor of Dewey-Humboldt was found to have handled public comment improperly (starting at page 44). As noted by the Attorney General's Office, "This office has received specific complaints about the Mayor preventing speakers from criticizing Councilmembers and staff, cutting off speakers, and inappropriately calling speakers out of order..."
Tammy Linn, who has worked in the Governor's Office and the Department of Education, and is also a candidate for Prescott City Council states, "I've been very well informed on Open Meeting Laws. I believe that Open Meeting Laws need to be fully understood so that elected officials and government staff will abide by them. We have to remember the intent of Open Meeting Laws is to protect and fully inform the citizens. Everything else is just policy."
"But the full intent is so that our citizens are fully informed and protected," Linn repeated. "Without these laws, government can run amuck and take over without citizen input. We need to make certain that the Open Meeting Laws are implemented throughout the system. I applaud Prescott eNews for taking the iniative to hold this seminar."
Michael Peters, another candidate for Prescott City Council and a retired judge, wrote in response to the invitation, "i do support open meetings and but for an earlier committment in Phoenix i would be glad to participate. however, if you could secure for me the handouts from ms. hill i will familiarize myself with the contents. Thank you for the opportunity of not only keeping me informed but also others in the pursuit of full disclosure!"
Many of the other Prescott Council candidates have expressed their support for the Open Meeting Law seminar, and will attend if possible, including:
- Robert Behnke
- Steve Blair
- Glenn Gooding
- John Hanna
- Marlin Kuykendall
When asked why he planned to attend the Open Meeting Law Seminar, Marlin Kuykendall said, "Because I need to know more about the opportunities of conversation and communication between the elected folks and the public."
Prescott Mayor Wilson also received the invitation to the Open Meeting Law Seminar, and wrote back, "This sounds like an excellent opportunity for new candidates that are unfamiliar with Arizona Revised Statutes on Open Meetings. All elected officials, including me, take an oath of office to abide by all laws including Arizona Open Meeting statutes. As you know, the City of Prescott has taken several steps to ensure we are in compliance with the Arizona Open Meeting statutes, including specific rules that apply to all City Council and Mayoral appointed committees.
"Our City Clerk Liz Burke is quite familiar with the Open Meeting Statutes and has conducted educational sessions for the City Council and works with all our appointed boards, commissions and committees to ensure our compliance. In addition, our City Attorney Gary Kidd ensures Prescott City Council members are aware of any changes to the Open Meeting Statutes and that we modify any procedures as needed to comply with those changes.
"As Mayor of the City of Prescott I fully support the Open Meeting statute. However, my busy schedule will preclude my attendance at your sponsored seminar. Perhaps our City Clerk or City Attorney could attend as the City of Prescott panelist if their schedule permits."
When: Today, from 11-4
Where: Yavapai Training Center, at the corner of Sheldon and Gurley. Enter through the door in the back.
Bring: Pen and Notepad, Sack Lunch. Beverages will be provided by the Marlin for Mayor Campaign.
Schedule: The seminar and educational portion will be provided by Attorney Liz Hill, from the State of Arizona Ombudsman's office. After there will be a panel discussion on the challenges and benefits of following Open Meeting Laws.
Special thanks to: Sanford Cohen, KQNA News 1130 AM and 99.9 FM; and Access 13; and the Marlin for Mayor Campaign.