• strict warning: Non-static method view::load() should not be called statically in /home/glencoenews/www/www/sites/all/modules/views/views.module on line 906.
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  • strict warning: Declaration of views_handler_filter_node_status::operator_form() should be compatible with views_handler_filter::operator_form(&$form, &$form_state) in /home/glencoenews/www/www/sites/all/modules/views/modules/node/views_handler_filter_node_status.inc on line 13.
  • strict warning: Declaration of views_handler_filter_term_node_tid::value_validate() should be compatible with views_handler_filter::value_validate($form, &$form_state) in /home/glencoenews/www/www/sites/all/modules/views/modules/taxonomy/views_handler_filter_term_node_tid.inc on line 302.
  • strict warning: Non-static method view::load() should not be called statically in /home/glencoenews/www/www/sites/all/modules/views/views.module on line 906.
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  • strict warning: Non-static method view::load() should not be called statically in /home/glencoenews/www/www/sites/all/modules/views/views.module on line 906.
  • strict warning: Non-static method view::load() should not be called statically in /home/glencoenews/www/www/sites/all/modules/views/views.module on line 906.
  • strict warning: Non-static method view::load() should not be called statically in /home/glencoenews/www/www/sites/all/modules/views/views.module on line 906.
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Transparency – Our view: Sometimes easier said than done

Politicians and bureaucrats love to talk about transparency, the idea that government processes are open and available for everyone to see and be confident the outcome is not based on hidden agendas or untoward, unspoken allegiances.
Folks love to talk about transparency in local government because the processes are so closely linked to issues directly impacting our everyday lives. Everybody wants to believe the city councilors they know and see at the coffee shop chatting or at the grocery store each day. And yet, there are abuses in the notion that decisions are made in the open in an honest and straightforward manner.
Last week was a tough one in city government when it comes to transparency.
Councilors Al Robeck, Milan Alexander and Cory Neid recently shot down a proposal to have Community Development Group/Moxie/Short Elliott Hendrickson (SEH) lead the development of the city’s comprehensive plan. Transparency took a beating on this one, folks.
The process for interviewing four firms interested in leading the process, a group from which CDG/Moxie/SEH was recommended, was done behind closed doors. We were told only ‘stakeholders’ were allowed to attend. Apparently, citizens/taxpayers were not considered stakeholders.
At the July 20 council meeting, a memo suggesting CDG/Moxie/SEH be selected over SRF Consulting did not include the costs in writing the two finalists planned to charge the city for the work. It should be noted SEH has a lengthy history as the city’s contract engineering firm. There is no reason to believe its work is not exemplary, though some councilors like to complain the company’s fees are sometimes too high.
What is perhaps even more concerning is that the process for reaching a selected firm was explained during a workshop meeting July 13.
Despite the ability to discuss the selection process of the firm that would lead the process for creating a comprehensive plan, councilors showed no interest in discussion. And then, a week later, the trio of councilors Robeck, Neid and Alexander were suddenly lockstep against the recommendation to hire CDG/Moxie/SEH. Alexander claimed the cost was too high even though the actual cost was never clearly defined in writing to the public, the same public that was effectively excluded from observing the interview process.
And there’s more.
Later in the evening, the council met in closed session to consider allegations of misconduct regarding a social media post by Glencoe firefighter Richard Howell. Councilors have indicated there was spirited discussion on how to handle the allegation. It was so spirited they voted behind closed doors, 3-2, against terminating Howell. Again, councilors Robeck, Neid and Alexander voted against termination.
The council decided not to record the vote in the council chambers as all other votes were taken. The vote was not streamed as the other votes were early in the evening. They are also declined any description of the nature of the actual social media post attributed to Howell.
Discipline, whatever that may be, will be left up to the fire department’s hierarchy on a timeline of its choosing.
Firefighters, though volunteers, are still technically city employees. They are held to the same standards of behavior as all city staff.
We recognize elected officials at the local level are residents trying to do their best. We’re only asking they be above board and as transparent as they want us to believe they are in their decisions to avoid the erosion of the public’s trust.
Is that too much to ask?
-jm