No SUNSHINE in Backroom!

By Pat Hunter


It's one thing to privately chuckle when your own kid says something silly, but it's a different story when an elected official that has taken an oath of office to serve the people and uphold the law openly tells all about how he thinks he’s found a way to break the law. First Doyle Arp defies the Open Records Law, now it’s the Sunshine Law!


Mayor Arp made some very serious statements at a recent budget meeting attended by commissioners Don Miller, Nancy Marcus, Bob Franke and Chris Park.


Comm. Marcus, also a member of the Salary and Benefits committee, asked if the committee had dissolved? Why no, she just wasn’t invited to attend. Her fellow committee member Comm. Don Miller (Villager) who’s never short of words didn’t say a thing. 


According to Arp, “elected officials” are meeting 2 and 3 times a month on different proposals. Once done, he said, they would report back information. It appears that this committee is meeting in secret to discuss issues and make recommendations about who knows what; it could be employee policies, salaries and wages, insurance and benefits.


Why should you care? Unless money grows on trees at your place, I believe, this backroom deal is about to cost taxpayers (you) a tidy sum.


County employee salaries, insurance and benefits constitute a generous piece of the pie of local government spending and about ninety percent (90%) of an employee’s insurance bill is paid courtesy of county taxpayers.


Does your employer pay ninety percent (90%) of your insurance premium? In the real world, insurance benefits are shrinking and workers face higher insurance premiums and deductibles, more out of pocket expenses, or no health insurance and no safety net.


Arp seems to feel that it’s none of taxpayers business to know what kind of goodies the Salary and Benefits committee now cooks. 


The "Sunshine law" Open Meetings Act, prohibits holding private discussions.


Arp said that he didn’t want it “negotiated” in the “papers.” 


He said that if 2 or more commissioners attend that’s “public.” I have news for him or any other official, the "Sunshine" Open Meetings law states, “… members of any public body which consists of two (2) or more members, with the authority to make decisions for or recommendations to a public body on policy…


Arp has excluded the press and citizens from the public decision-making process about issues that affect our pocketbooks. Government is supposed to be open, honest and accountable, but the mayor seems to have his own ideas, none of which have anything to do with democratic principles or obeying the Sunshine Law.