Sunday, January 05, 2014

Standard-Examiner: Ogden Council May Dump Possibly Illegal Straw-poll Voting

We'll be keeping out fingers crossed that Dr. Schroeder won't be compelled to file another remedial lawsuit, right?

As the Ogden City Council dutifully prepares to swear in our newly-elected council members, and select council "leadership" for the upcoming two years, The Standard-Examiner reports that the Council will on Monday consider procedural amendments which would would ideally bring the council leadership nomination and selection process into compliance with requirements of Utah's Open and Public Meetings Act:
OGDEN -- After being informed it may be in violation of Utah's Open and Public Meetings Act, the Ogden City Council will consider changing the way members nominate and elect council officers.
In a special meeting Monday, the council will consider amending its "rules of procedure" to abandon a straw poll voting process it had been using when selecting the chair and vice chair positions on the council.
Currently, the nomination and election of the two leadership positions takes place in a council study session, where council members indicate on a straw poll form whom they would like to nominate.
Council members fold the forms and place them in a designated container that is given to council's executive director, who determines which council members have been nominated.
After nominations have been made, voting takes place under the same straw poll format, and the individual responses are anonymous.
When the straw poll results are finalized, they are ratified in the regular council meeting.
 Check out the full Mitch Shaw story here:
"David Reymann, a Salt Lake City attorney who specializes in First Amendment and media litigation, including open records laws and access to court proceedings, recently sent the council [the below-linked] letter stating that its current practice violates the state's open and public meetings law," Mr. Shaw further reports. We've independently obtained a full copy of that letter, of course:
We've been complaining about the Council's secret ballot council leadership nomination and election process since it was first initiated back in December of 2010; and the procedure has also caught editorial heat from the Standard-Examiner.

A Weber County Forum Tip O' The Hat to Ogden City Watchdog Dan Schroeder for consulting with Attorney  Reymann and asking him to write the advisory letter.  Similar kudos to Council Chair Bart Blair for promptly placing the matter on Monday's special counsel meeting agenda.

As the Standard Editorial Board opined in 2010, "it's never a good idea to try to reduce council animosity by taking away from the public decisions and rationales that they have a right to hear about. In other words, the secret straw polls should not be used as anger-management therapy."

We'll be keeping out fingers crossed that Dr. Schroeder won't be compelled to file another remedial lawsuit, right?

Update 1/6/131:30 p.m.: We now learn, however belatedly, that Perfessor Schroader is now "live blogging" from the Ogden City Council Chambers.  Be sure to tune in.  Sadly, your blogmeister is probably the last to learn about this, inasmuch as Dan S. never gave us a "heads up" about this. Nevertheless... Go Dr. Schroeder; GO!

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