Friday, February 6, 2009

Behind closed doors

No sooner had the door shut on a meeting among Ketchum's mayor, City Council and the Blaine County Sheriff on Monday, but the gossip and speculation began.

The group retreated to discuss a proposal from the sheriff to assume responsibility for city law enforcement.

Ketchum is looking for ways to save money. The resort-cities local-option sales tax figures released this week for December showed that the month's receipts were down 33 percent, which doesn't bode well for the coming months.

Mayor Randy Hall and the council are rightly alarmed about a trend that threatens to carve a huge chunk out of local sales tax revenues, which account for about half the city's budget.

Alarm notwithstanding, none of the elected officials should have willingly taken part in an executive session to discuss city police operations.

We're sure it was a lot more comfortable to discuss a sensitive issue like this without the nosy and sometimes noisy public looking on, but it wasn't right.

The Idaho Open Meeting law states that "it is the policy of this state that the formation of public policy is public business and shall not be conducted in secret." The law makes only a few exceptions for matters involving individual employees, labor negotiations, property purchases or pending litigation. A plan to merge law enforcement agencies isn't one of them.

Despite the fact that the city has scheduled a public meeting on the matter, the closed-door session leaves the public wondering what in the world was said that needed to be said out of the earshot of citizens who are paying the bills.

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