Monday, February 15, 2016

WDT: Maple City Secrecy

    Ogdensburg City Council members are going back and forth about "confidential" information and making it public.  It's a mine field for public officials buffeted by media who selectively want transparency and municipal attorneys who tend to want everything secret. Then there are administrators who want anything embarrassing kept on the down low and the labor unions who don't want the public to know how greedy they are when it comes to negotiations.
     Executive sessions are always nettlesome as conversations easily stray. That certainly happened last year in our city when candid  and conversational observations about a candidate were relayed to the candidate, contributing to rage. Ironically, the people making accusations about "leaks" are the most chatty, and remember, if you are leaking to a particular media, that media thinks its not a leak.
      Then there is the issue of discussing the background of a particular corporation or individual as a ruse to mask policy discussion.
       I'd be the first to say I would have handled executive sessions differently last year when there were so many agendas in the room, including my own.
       The implied muzzle of executive session is often a problem. The back room talks on hiring a labor lawyer last year denied the public the chance to hear debate on the core issue.
       Then there are "personnel" issues, routinely kept secret when its convenient but not so when it's not. Layer on that some politics and it's off to the races.
        In the Maple City, they argue over updates from the City Manager. We got weekly email updates and no one made a fuss. They were mostly a "what's going on" in the departments and while not made public, I don't recall seeing anything that was particularly bothersome.
        It's a balance. There does seem a need to be able to talk candidly, but don't ever put it in print and always play the game of only have two of five in the room. Then hold a second meeting with the other two, and a third meeting for the remaining one.
       How's that for open government ?
Watertown Daily Times | Ogdensburg officials try to control information; two councilors balk

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

Why not simply violate the open meetings law? What is the maximum fine? Nothing. What is the maximum punishment? Nothing. When you have a law that has no penalty for violating it, its not a law, its just advice.

Anonymous said...

yah. most municipal govts are the same. transparency haha

Anonymous said...


I cant quite figure out what Mr Davis is so afraid of.. Is it the fact that he feel power now that elected.. When running for office Mr Davis was quite humble and acted a little on the ball on issues, but now that elected he seems to want to keep everything at city hall a big secret. First and formost I feel Mr Davis, Mr.Skamperle, Ms. Stevenson, and Mr Price feel then now represent themselves and not any interested taxpayer.. They are wrong. They represent the taxpayers and their decisions affect the taxpayers and their families.
In my eyes heres the problem.. Its really the news media that have stirred up the issue. Do they really have a need to know?? Are our councilors afraid of the media and the reporting they do?? As a citizen and taxpayer in Ogdensburg I feel I have the right to ask questions whether at a council meeting or to an individual councilor pertaining to issues in our local government and recieve an answer.. If its something personal then the councilor should tell me he/she cant answer that question and why.
Something tells me that this new council is going through some growing pains and especially Mr Davis and seems to want to really control things that go on in the city. They forgot that just a few months ago they were out knocking on doors humbley looking for your vote now they want to scorn the very people that put them in office.
When a mayor and councilors and feel they are above transparency then we as taxpayers of this city must take actions to prevent this in the future..When taxpayers in this city have no say in their government or at least and educated say then its time to disband this branch of government and look for a new way. Possibly dissolution to the County may possibly be the way/

Anonymous said...


What a load of crap!!!! Transparency is something that all politicians like to talk about but it is apparently just that; talk. We the people have the right to see our government in action and to know that the people we put into power to represent us care enough about us to be honest and trustworthy.

Everyone knew that there was a conspiracy afoot with the most recent local election, it was so obvious. In my opinion the "agendas" bordered on election tampering and created a very hostile culture that just spoke to actual character of those in power in our fair city. Unfortunately, you were the Mayor when this all took place. Where were you then, and why did you not stand up for what was right? I suspect that you were as much a part of the "agenda" as everyone else. To stand up now and condemn this is so fake. The time to stand up for what was right is while it was taking place, this speaks to your character as well. Shame on you and the others involved. If you can not do the job legally and ethically, please do us all a favor and stay out.

Anonymous said...

Have the mayor start a blog...

Anonymous said...

You got Mr Davis right on 954.. Davis wanted Morley out the night he started and will continue to disagree with everything Morley stands for.. Morley has stood for the people of Ogdensburg for years now even when he stood alone and the mayor and rest of council made fun of him. He believes in the people and unlike Mr Davis and Mr.Price the elected position didnt go to his head... I cant quite figure out this Agenda yet but it seems to be party orientated.. Price is or was the teacher union president and got them to vote for him so for him not to allow things like a simple Email released is quite strange. Stevenson , Skamperele and Davis are all Democrat I believe so possibly they are setting the stage to make Mr Ashley look bad all year.. Cant get a grasp..
I also cant get a grip on why the journal wanted the Emails so bad.. Are they going to print them weekly or are they going to hide the information from us and only print whats convenient to them.. Either way I back Morley and Mitchell and their stance and shame on the rest..
Once they become elected the taxpayers quite being represented at city hall and some special interest is being taken care of..

Jeff Graham said...

401 Good idea. A Mayor does need to tell what's happening, sing the praises of his town and articulate the issues, even if the MSM doesn't like it.