You Might Need to Recuse Yourself If . . .

In a post yesterday, I noted that Linda Pall needs to recuse herself from any case appealed to city council that involves folks that she has been actively trying to help run out of town. From the Public Records material I have received, it is apparent to me that she has a clear moral obligation to recuse herself. But the fact that I have named her does not mean that no one else needs to do the same.

In addition to Pall, other council members might need to recuse themselves if . . .

1. They think that the winter “Windy” sponsored by NSA was a “neo-confederate dance.”

2. They think that Bill London is an ex officio member of the city council.

3. They think that the “open meetings” law in the Idaho Code doesn’t apply to them.

4. They think it is all right for emails (discussing pending city business) from one council member to begin with salutations like, “Dear Bill and Council.”

5. They think that Tolerance Ave. is a one way street.

The Intoleristas have been laying about themselves with the iron flail of Tolerance for a couple years now. We are getting to that part of the story where we are going to be able to present our case before what are supposed to be impartial judges. But not all of them are impartial — some have been active participants in the conflict leading up to this appeal, as the results of this Public Records Request clearly show.

So I am writing this now, not because it is necessary to have a law against this kind of thing (i.e. back room collusion). We do have a law against it, and when it comes to our situation that law has been blithely disregarded. And while some of the council members said the right thing in the course of this secret meeting, the fact remains that they were part of a discussion they shouldn’t have been part of in the first place. I write this now because the council members involved need to answer some questions in public (on the record) about it, and they need to do this before our case comes before them. Is this kind of thing right? I believe that those council members who participated in this cyber-meeting with Bill London, ex officio mayor, need to issue a statement about it. Was this discussion within the bounds of Idaho’s open meeting law?

In pressing this point, it is important to note that this violation of Idaho’s open meeting law occurred because we are talking about the deliberations of a governing body. The law does not require private citizens to release, for example, any of their private email communications. To insist upon that would be to insist upon an legalized invasion of privacy that would interfere with Charlie Nolan’s ability to use multiple pseudonyms. But the law does require members of governing agencies to conduct all their business in the open.

So there is no mistake, let me use some quotation marks. The law requires that “all meetings of a governing body of a public agency shall be open to the public.” This definition of “governing body” includes agencies existing at all levels of government. The law stipulates that “the formation of public policy is public business and shall not be conducted in secret.” The legal requirement to meet and deliberate openly is not satisfied simply by deciding to “include Bill” and “exclude the mayor.” The open meeting law includes all deliberations, which certainly includes the emails that we received as a result of this Public Records Request. Deliberations are defined as “the receipt or exchange of information or opinion relating to a decision” that is going to be made (or not made) by a public agency. The law also includes within its scope informal meetings and social gatherings.

So I repeat, was this discussion of whether or not to condemn our church and its associated ministries within the bounds of Idaho’s open meeting law? And if there was a violation of the open meeting law (as there was), it is not appropriate for council members to respond to that violation by clamming up further. The problem has been a lack of openness. When will the participants in this set of email deliberations say what they think about it? When will someone (besides me) ask them about it? When will Linda Pall recuse herself? Will anyone else have to? These are all reasonable questions.

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