Archive for Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Letter to the editor: Keep it open and accountable

January 9, 2008

Your vote is important at the Jan. 15, 2008, special election in Tonganoxie!

The question submitted on the official ballot asks, "Shall the following be adopted?

"Shall Charter Ordinance No 17 entitled 'A charter ordinance exempting the City of Tonganoxie from provisions of K.S.A. 15-106, and providing substitute provision on the same subject,' take effect? Vote 'Yes' to adopt."

The Explanatory Statement, which appears on the ballot, as provided by the city of Tonganoxie, states, "A 'YES' vote on this question will change the quorum size for city council meetings from three (3) to four (4)."

What the city has failed to tell you is the purpose for adoption of Charter Ordinance No. 17 by the governing body at their Aug. 13 meeting. Kansas statutes set out the rule that a majority of the governing body constitutes a quorum (K.S.A. 15-106), and the Kansas Open Meetings Act prohibits meeting by a majority of a quorum without giving appropriate notice. KOMA uniformly applies to all cities, and cannot be modified by the city. It has been determined KOMA applies to telephone, e-mail and other interactive communications.

The real reason to increase the quorum by Charter Ordinance No. 17 is to increase the number of council members that constitutes a majority of the quorum; which in this case is a change from two to three, resulting in the ability of two members of the council to meet and discuss city business privately, avoiding the Kansas Open Meeting Act.

Council members can meet with the mayor or city staff at any time to discuss city business. We have five members. If no more than two can talk to each other, which one will be left out of the closed meetings? If information needs to be shared, work sessions can be held on an as-needed basis and all members privy to the discussions.

Vote "NO." Keep our city government open and accountable to you, the voters.

Velda Roberts



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