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Kudos to the city council for following state law

Rather than discuss the issue privately before or after the Oct. 15 city council meeting, Glencoe City Councilor John Schrupp decided to publicly ask fellow Councilor Allen Robeck why he voted against going into a closed session two weeks earlier. The intent of the closed session was to discuss the proposed purchase and sale of land to the Glencoe power co-op using city funds.
Robeck replied he believed the council should do its business in public. It was a noble but not a complete response.
To be certain, there are times when the city council should, and does, appropriately use the provision in state law allowing it to adjourn its meeting and meet behind closed doors to discuss various issues. Whether councilors take advantage of the provision in law allowing them to meet in closed session too often is a matter of opinion.
Councilors know they should be cautious in exercising this right to avoid the public asking why a city council that professes to believe in transparency needs to meet behind closed doors. Councilor Schrupp said constituents have asked him why Robeck votes against the permissible closed door meetings.
That’s a fair question, folks. Unfortunately, Mr. Robeck doesn’t always explain his position thoroughly. We wish he would. It would spare the portion of the community paying attention plenty of needless speculation.
The unique part of the discussion at the Oct. 15 meeting was the council’s proud assertion it has improved its transparency by offering a more complete explanation of why it needs to take advantage of a provision in state law allowing a closed session. Council members also puffed out their chests reporting they don’t actually do any business when the doors are closed.
Congratulations, gentlemen. You’ve just applauded yourselves for following the provisions of state law. If you don’t follow the law, why should your residents?
The closed session in question had to do with a land transaction involving the city and the co-op. The land deal in the city’s eastern industrial park affirmed the acquisition of the land years ago. We applauded the city council for keeping the co-op in Glencoe.
We would like to see far fewer of these closed-door meetings, especially from people who profess to hold transparency in local government as a great virtue.

- jm