Editorial: Steamboat council should resolve to meet less frequently behind closed doors

Steamboat Today (Steamboat Springs): If the Steamboat Springs City Council is making New Year’s resolutions for 2017, we hope a pledge to meet less often in executive session tops that list.

Thanks to some digging by Steamboat Pilot & Today reporter Scott Franz, we learned that the current Steamboat Springs City Council, as of Dec. 19, 2016, has held 13 closed sessions since November 2015, which is more than any other city council in recent history. In fact, you have to go back a decade to 2005 to find a council that met behind closed doors more often.

Meeting records reveal that 42 percent of the council’s regular meetings have involved executive sessions, and if you add work sessions to the mix, 30 percent of council meetings have included closed-door sessions.

By comparison, the Steamboat Springs School Board has met behind closed doors at a fifth of its monthly meetings, and the Routt County Board of Commissioners meets in executive session only about four times a year to receive updates from its attorney.

As advocates for open government, we find the number of executive sessions held this year by the city council concerning, especially for a group that has made improving community trust a top priority. It’s hard to convince members of the public you’re committed to open and transparent government when you’re discussing city business outside of the public’s view.

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