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WEDNESDAY, JULY 12, 2006
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EDITORIAL

Time to revisit 2005 open meetings law

Hoover school board members decided to fire the school superintendent. But like the animals going into Noah's Ark, they made their decision by twos.

Rather than be out in the open, the members got together in pairs to discuss firing Superintendent Connie Williams. When everyone agreed in private, the board met in public and formally voted.

The new Alabama Open Meetings Law is supposed to prevent that sort of activity. But, apparently, it does not. Thus, the Legislature must revisit the 2005 law to protect the public's interest in their government and to make government more transparent.

The legislation's intent isn't to allow less than a quorum of members of any public body to hold a series of one-on-one private meetings as a way around the law.

Decatur City Council appears to employ such tactics on some of its votes. The recent vote on moving the animal shelter and involving $2.5 million is a case in point.

A City Hall insider said that the three votes to move ahead with the project were in place before even limited public discussion took place. If so, those voting for the project probably employed the Noah's Ark strategy, too.

The law's intent is not to shield public officials from the public. Thus, legislators who value open government must revise the law next year.

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