Uninformed?

? The obligation to stay informed about public boards lies with public, not the board.

Every so often, members of the public raise questions about the obligation of public policy-making boards to keep the public informed of its activities, citing the Kansas Open Meetings Act. The most recent occurrence has been in the context of the Hillsboro City Council?s sale of city-owned land to Wal-Mart.

For the record, KOMA does not obligate a public body to inform the public of what it is doing?it is not required by KOMA even to make a meeting agenda, much less publish it in the local newspaper. That said, most public agencies, including the local council, do make meeting agendas available on their website. KOMA does require a public board to notify individuals of meetings if the individual formally requests it of the board. Even then, it does not specify the method of notification.

In truth, newspapers like ours have accepted the challenge of keeping the public informed about public business?by our choice, not legal obligation. And we do so. In the current situation, we reported every city council meeting where the infamous ?mystery business? was on the agenda.

Ultimately, the obligation to stay informed falls on each citizen. Fortunately, you get the Free Press at your door each week at no charge to you. The proverbial ball is firmly in your court. ?DR

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