SB 1435 a politicians' cover-up?
A state lawmaker said Arizona’s open meeting law stifles informal discussions and wants to allow elected boards to talk out of the public eye when members aren’t set to take action.
SB 1435, introduced by Sen. Sylvia Allen, R-Snowflake, would require that only meetings where action, such as debating or voting, begins to take place be held in public. She said it’s difficult for members of elected bodies, especially those with three and five members, to talk without the threat of breaking the open meetings law.
“I felt that this would really make for better government because – let’s put it this way, before you have to take legal action, work has to be done and it has to be done by the staff,” Allen said.
Arizona’s open meeting law requires that discussions, deliberations, considerations or consultations involving the majority of members of an elected body be held in public meetings.
David Cuillier, freedom of information chair for the Society of Professional Journalists and director of the University of Arizona School of Journalism, said the bill would “completely gut” Arizona’s open meeting law.
“You can’t have a democracy where the citizens are flying blind,” he said. “This is all about being able to hold our government accountable … We need to know how the sausage is being made.”
Roberto De Vido is a communications consultant, writer, cartoonist and jack of many trades. The former chief of Tucson Sentinel’s East Asia Bureau, he now lives in California (make of that what you will).