In a March 6 article on the front page of the Steamboat Today, residents of Steamboat Springs learned that Steamboat Springs City Manager Deb Hinsvark is once again using “work product” communications with the City Council as a means of shielding those communications from the public.
The same article quoted me as saying such secret communications are “far more insidious than the use of executive session.” I would like to put an exclamation point on that statement.
At least with the use of executive, or secret, sessions on the part of governing bodies, the public and the press are aware that secret communications are happening because executive sessions are publicly posted on council agendas. When the “work product” designation is used to shield information from the community, the public and press are totally unaware that it is even occurring unless an elected representative raises the issue.
My hat is off to council members Sonja Macys and Scott Ford for doing so in this situation. It can be uncomfortable and difficult — particularly in small communities — for elected representatives to publicly discuss the community’s business. However, the courage and integrity to do so is a minimum requirement for holding public office and representatives unable to conduct the public’s business in public don’t belong in office.
Former Steamboat Springs City Council president