Sunshine Week, earlier this month, reminds us that good government is transparent. Democracy requires we remain vigilant so that “wheelin’ and dealin’ in smoke-filled rooms” goes the way of the Seditions Act.
Smart people ask me, “Jon, can I attend council meetings?” Yes!
You’re not merely invited — you have a right to attend, just as you have right to your own home.
Few meetings legally exclude the public and 99 percent of what your representative government does is open and must be publicized with time and location, because you own a seat there. You paid for it.
I kept a campaign promise by introducing an amendment (crafted by former reporter Sam Taylor) to the Charter Review Commission which would make central to the charter the spirit of Washington’s Open Public Meetings Act by requiring more training and meaningful penalties for violations.
It’s too easy to intentionally or accidentally violate the Open Public Meetings Act and allow officials to conduct government business outside public scrutiny. In this digital age a violation can occur when a majority of council members (either in one or a serial/chain email conversation) discuss — yes, just discus s— public business.
Attend a city or county council meeting. Or school board or commission meeting. An internet search will give you dates and time. No RSVP. It’s your government. Those are your chambers and your officials. If you don’t hold us accountable, we won’t be.