Seattle City Councilmember Bruce Harrell

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Apr 17 2009

Open Government: No Closed Door Meetings

Published by at 8:36 pm under Open Government

For the record, I never participated in any four-person meetings that became the subject of recent headlines regarding private budget meetings. Five is the magic number in a nine- member council since, as Councilmember Sam Smith would say, “Five makes policy.” However, I believe establishing a “rolling quorum” by rotating smaller groups below five is unlawful and a breach of public trust. Transparency in government is something that I feel very strongly about. That is why I agreed to Co-Chair the Council’s Special Committee on Open Government. The goal of this committee is to ensure that all City departments implement best practices for open meetings and public-records disclosure. I believe government proceedings should take place in public settings. I do believe the Council does a great job of attempting to conduct its affairs in a transparent manner. Committee and Full Council meetings are conducted in a public setting and are broadcast live on the Seattle Channel 21. Subsequently, the meetings are re-broadcast and citizens can dial up past meetings by going to the Seattle Channel website. I will continue to meet with members of the public to understand where we can make our work more transparent in some of the following ways: (1) using technology to make documents more available and accessible; (2) examining logistics of how we communicate such as meeting times, locations and translation barriers; and, (3) examining best practices for boards, commissions and committees utilized by the City.

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