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Tuesday, June 26, 2007

School District Expected to Release Tape Detailing Open Meetings Violation

"The St. Charles [Illinois] school board has agreed to release to the public and media a tape recording of a 2005 closed session meeting that officials say proves the board willfully broke the law. ... Officials have said the closed-session discussion in 2005 centered on a contract extension for now-outgoing Superintendent Barbara Erwin."

What a great idea: taping closed executive sessions of public meetings can prove violations and (far more importantly) deter many, many more. Attorney General Rob McKenna (R) and State Auditor Brian Sonntag (D) will be jointly requesting a taping bill in the 2008 legislative session. Auditor Sonntag proposed this same bill in the 2001 legislative session but local government argued--get this--that requiring taping was an "unfunded mandated" which would presumably bankrupt local governments. A small digital recorder costs about $59. The saddest part about this argument is ... it worked, at least in 2001. But we think things will be different in 2008.