City Council appears to be using private council meetings to cover business that ought to be discussed publicly.
Although private council meetings certainly have their place, the public should have confidence that they’re only being used in the rare legal, human resources, and intergovernmental cases that need them. As I wrote for Tint of Ink, it appears that they’re being used more widely than that at the moment:
- I will call on the Province to amend the City of St. John’s Act so that in St. John’s, just like in any other city or town, private decisions must be publicly ratified.
- I will object to inappropriate requests for private meetings.
- When a secret private is necessary, I will push for some public explanation, however minimal—even if it’s just “council discussed a personnel issue”—so that residents can have confidence that secrecy isn’t being misused.
Restraining private meetings isn’t the only way Council could be more transparent, though. I support Councillor Lane’s proposals for transparency too: Committee meetings should be better publicized and more accessible; there should be regular Q&A sessions; and both Council and committee meetings should be recorded and livestreamed.
I also support the appointment of an independent City auditor.