This had been covered on other blogsites earlier, but the Argus has a good story on Gant walking when GOAC shut the doors.

This had been covered on other blogsites earlier, but the Terry Woster at the Argus has a good story today on the recent incident when State Senator Jason Gant walking when the Government Operations and Audit Committee shut the doors when talking about the report of the Juvenile monitor.
Jack Getz said the recent decision by the Government Operations and Audit Committee to close a portion of its meeting to consider a report from the juvenile corrections monitor is the kind of case that should be reviewed by the state's Open Meetings Commission.

"Pre-emptive secrecy is a good word for it," said Getz, a member of the journalism and mass communications faculty at South Dakota State University. "It speaks to a mindset that is chilling in a democratic society. Taking the public business into private sessions has to remain a last-ditch option for very limited circumstances."

At issue is the semi-annual report of the juvenile monitor. That's the position responsible for reviewing and investigating complaints about the juvenile corrections system. The position was created after the death of Gina Score, a teenager who died in state custody in 1999.

The report that troubled the panel is an open record, Republican Sen. Jason Gant of Sioux Falls said after the meeting. Gant chairs the committee, but when the panel voted to close the meeting to talk about the monitor's report, he left the room.

"There is no reason for the report to be discussed in executive session," Gant said later. "The attorney general has ruled twice that this is a public document. Public documents should not need to be discussed behind closed doors. I decided to leave the committee room prior to the executive session because I did not want to participate in an executive session that was not necessary."

and...

A majority of the Government Operations and Audit Committee disagreed, voting to close last week's meeting to talk about the report.

"I'm not willing to discuss personnel matters nor juvenile matters publicly, regardless of what the report may or may not say, because my questions may lead to answers that we expect that we're not going to get," an audio record of the meeting shows Democratic Sen. Garry Moore of Yankton saying.

and...

Moore said that when the juvenile monitor position was created, it never was intended to be public. He said if the reports must be done in the open, perhaps the Legislature should do away with the requirement that the committee review the documents.

Read it all here.

What? According to Senator (and soon to be Representative) Moore "When the juvenile monitor position was created, it never was intended to be public." Then what was it supposed to be, "magic?" The worst part is that the report itself is public. It's the debate they wanted to make private.

Was the Juvenile monitor supposed to wave a mystical wand and make things all better? NO. His purpose is to independently investigate allegations of improper conduct. In other words, he is installing accountability into the system. That's what people demanded after Gina Score.

If specific identifying information is contained in the report, then by all means redact it and keep it confidential. But if there's a problem, it's not going to be fixed by avoiding the light of day.

Along those lines, Senator Moore seems to be forgetting who the legislators are ultimately accountable to - the electorate. Senator Gant did the right thing in taking a stand.

Comments

Anonymous said…
Gant was right on this one. This is not the first time Moore has been an embarrassment to himself and the party, and I’m a democrat. He should have hung it up long ago.
John Koskan said…
Just because it is the public's business does not mean that all of it's discussions be open to the public. Should the public have the right to sit in on disiplinary actions against employees. Should the Argus have right to sit in on the Governor's cabinent meetings, or the supreme court's deliberations? The reason GOAC was given the responsibility to reach into private administrative affairs was to break through the employer/employee or the client shield to ensure that "insiders" were not abusing their powers or hiding information or actions that needed to be acted on publicly. Administration has the right and responsibility to hear and act on employee and client conflicts, which in some cases are by law confidential, and are innappropriate to disclose to the public. GOAC walks a fine line balancing what non administrative persons have a right to know. If you make all actions open to the public even those responsible to report are less willing to talk.
I think that from the volume of anonymous posters on this blog it should be obvious that there are consequences to speaking out in public.
As far as the AG's comments they are possibly true as far as the actual printed report goes, but GOAC does ask questions, including personnel and personal questions.
I am not a big supporter of executive sessions, but there are times and situations that justify confidentiality. Working with reports from the juvenile corrections monitor is one of those times. Trust the GOAC committee to bring out what the public really needs to know to set policy, not just snoop.
John Koskan, GOAC committe member
Anonymous said…
While PP chooses to castigate Senator Moore, he fails to mention that GOPs have a 2/3 majority on that committee and all committees, and provided the majority of votes to close the meeting.

What the press has not effectively done is name all of the people on the committee who voted to close the meeting.

Can somebody name those who voted for closure?
Douglas said…
Perhaps the previous post by John Koskan may give a clue to who favors secret government sessions.

Perhaps Larry Long should take an interest in one more apparently inappropriate denial of public information to the public. That may be why Gant walked out of the meeting.

If state employees fear retribution for telling the truth, the problem is not with open meetings, but with the Republican executives and legislators.
Elephant's Memory said…
Hooray for Gant! The pinheads in Pierre want to operate like cockroaches -- out of sight and in the dark. Gant was correct in stepping out, and I wish there were more profiles in courage on that committee.

Now Gant should go to the second floor and instruct the Governor and his cronies on open government. Better, what about Gant for Governor? I predict the Royal Chariot would stay in its hanger a lot more.
Anonymous said…
Douglas, are you spinning yarns of half-truth again? You might recall that Garry Moore was quoted in the article as being in favor of closing the meeting. Democrat.

You might also recall that Gary Hanson and Garry Moore both signed the letter asking the Governor to call a special session to hear the allegations against Sutton. Democrat. Democrat.

Of course Republicans were involved too, but you're so deceitful when you always try to make Republicans out to be the bad guys.
Anonymous said…
3:10 there are a lot more republican bad guys here than democrats. Let's get them all named and then we can talk about them.
Douglas said…
Hey Anonymous 3:10, if you wish to accuse me of "spinning half truths" put your real name on your post.

There is nothing in my post that can't be derived from John Koskan's prior post.
Douglas said…
A Denise Ross post at her HogHouse blog links to state law on open and closed meetings and penalties for violation, etc.
http://www.hoghouseblog.com/2006/12/12/open-question-take-2/
Anonymous said…
Sen. Gant took the high road, the others stayed because they have never seen the high road.

Hat tip to Sen. Gant, one finger salute to the others.
Anonymous said…
Douglas, see there you go. I assume that because you choose to use an anonymous "douglas" you to must feel that those that are part of the secret government are out to get you, and then you challenge 3:10 to post his real name. Funny!!! I'll bet he just about fell for it.
Douglas said…
Last anonymous.

Thanks for the note, I did not realize that "Douglas" on these blogs did not lead to a site with my full name. No secret obviously.. It is Douglas Wiken. Check Dakota Today Blog. No more anonymous actually than is "PP".
Anonymous said…
Koskan needs a compass check, these kinds of under the table meetings are the same kind of administrative perversions that allowed a little 14 year old girl to be run to her death. If people need to come forward in secret, then you need new leadership of these programs.
Anonymous said…
Douglas, please file a complaint against the GOAC committee if you truly believe they are in violation of the law SDCL 1-25-2 (1). You continually complain how everyone else is doing it wrong, now's your chance to make it right, unless you'r all talk and no action.
If the tables were turned, and it was you or a family member you would not want to have them investigated at an open public meeting.
Anonymous said…
I wonder if Rapid City Mayor Jim Shaw is part of this task force. The task force must be taking lessons from him. Shaw is probably the most secretive elected official in the entire state.

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