Wednesday, January 03, 2007

What about sunshine laws?

In today's paper, there's an article on the failure of the 8 democrats (note - a MAJORITY) to muster enough votes to change the president of Toledo City Council.

Of special note is this quote from Frank Szollosi:

Mr. Szollosi said the Democrats should have met privately to agree on a candidate before calling for a vote publicly. He said it appeared that he and Ms. Brown each had only four votes. "The eight of us don't have our act together. Until we get our act together we have no business leading council," Mr. Szollosi said.

The last time I checked, a majority of any public body could not get together to decide action that they would take as a public body. To me, this would seem to include any decision about who they are going to vote for as president of the council.

While Councilman Szollosi refers to it as a caucus, I don't think it's quite the same. They are not getting together to decide their caucus leadership - they would be getting together to decide the leadership of Toledo City Council which is, by law, a non-partisan office.

If the Democrats on council do decide to get together to discuss such public business, I hope they make sure it's a public meeting with proper notice. Toledoans deserve to know how any decision about who will be the president of council is reached.

However, my personal hope is that they allow Rob Ludeman to continue. He appears to be doing a good job of handling the agenda and allowing all council members to have input and follow their individual initiatives. But this being Toledo, my expectations is that politics will win out over good government...

7 comments:

Lisa Renee said...

Maggie, that's an interesting perspective that I hadn't considered as far as the legality of the Democrats meeting to discuss their "disunity" for lack of a better word.

Rob Ludeman stayed President all of 2006, and it doesn't appear 2007 is starting out any differently. I don't feel he has been a "bad" President either but I also understand the party aspect is important to some people as well as other reasons. As you pointed out City Council is supposed to be non-partisan and once in a while they do manage to demonstrate that. I've always wondered with the charter stating it was supposed to be non-partisan why party affiliation is not removed.

Then again I wonder things like if the Charter states clearly, "At five-thirty o'clock p.m." why Toledo City Council meetings start at 4:00 p.m.

:-)

-Sepp said...

"...But this being Toledo, my expectations is that politics will win out over good government..."

You said it all right there Maggie!

Kate said...

Interesting addition Maggie - there is a website 'talkingtps.com' who's recently come under criticism for not involving a majority of the board - even one of the participants' finding himself in a defensive stance to the local newspapers inquiry.

Obviously, as you are discussing, a project of this nature - should it involve a majority of the board - would have been illegal.

Is there a class or a resource that these people should have? Particularly since they comment publicly about it -

Maggie Thurber said...

Kate - the AG's office website has a downloadable handbook on the sunshine law and public records. Perhaps our city council members should acquaint themselves with it...

Kate said...

I think I'll look that resource up. There are more in the area than Council members who need to take a class!

Hooda Thunkit said...

Maggie,

"However, my personal hope is that they allow Rob Ludeman to continue. He appears to be doing a good job of handling the agenda and allowing all council members to have input and follow their individual initiatives."

Yes, but Rob being the dreaded republican and second to Hizzoner, puts Rob in the unique position of becoming mayor if and when the Charlatan completely freaks out, as I'm betting he will.

This would put Toledo's rudder in the hands of a republican, which is even more catastrophic than it being in the hands of one of the other "d" factions.


"But this being Toledo, my expectations is that politics will win out over good government..."

Betting on a sure thing, are we?

Of course that isn't really a bet, when it's a sure thing, is it?

:-)

Hooda Thunkit said...

Oh, I almost forgot about the (chuckle) "sunshine" law (snicker).

This has been evaded for decades with the rolling caucus/meeting technique.

Major Force (MF for short) caucuses or meets with a number of parties just short of where the sunshine law kicks in and different "teammates" wander in and out, of the "rolling caucus" while the MF carefully keeps count to maintain the actual number present below the sunshine law threshold.

Eventually, the caucus/meeting is concluded with all of the "teammates" having had participated.

The "law" is hardest to skirt however when the number on "teammates is (2), say "P" & "T", in which case a third party has to act as the go-between, leaving "M" out of the loop...

Did I get it just about right Maggie?

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