Prosecutor makes correct call on subcommittees | Editorial

A politician that changes his mind on any issue risks being called a flip-flopper by political opponents and voters—sometimes even by editorial writers. Being labeled a flip-flopper can lose votes at the next election.

But we think Prosecuting Attorney Randy Gaylord showed courage and sound judgment by reversing himself on the application of the state Open Public Meetings Act on County Council subcommittees.

We applaud him for putting the public’s right to transparency and open government before the council’s desire, however understandable, to hash out some issues (especially the county budget) away from the glare of publicity and the noisy static of opposing viewpoints.

The reasoning behind closed-door subcommittees was not entirely wrong. Sometimes it can seem to officeholders that hard questions can be studied more carefully and tough decisions made more easily when passionate citizens and inquisitive reporters are kept “out-of-the-loop”.

We don’t question that Gaylord’s earlier answers could be supported by sound, and practical, thinking. But in recent months, the Charter Review Commission has brought the issue of closed-door subcommittees to the forefront— and the county council and the prosecutor have, to their credit, been listening.

San Juan County government and its citizens will benefit from the modest procedural reforms suggested by Gaylord and now before the council for discussion and possible action.

Kudos to all for a move in the right direction.


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