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Open Meeting Law, transparency practices questioned

Open Meeting Law questions were raised before the Menahga City Council earlier this week.

Menahga School Board member Jody Bjornson told the council that all committee meetings should be open to the public according to the law.

The Minnesota Open Meeting Law applies only to a quorum or more of members of the governing body or a committee, subcommittee, board, department or commission of the governing body, according to the law.

Therefore all committee meetings in Menahga should be open because two council members sit on each committee.

"It's just something that needs to be addressed," Bjornson said.

He suggested the city should post all committee meeting dates and times 72 hours in advance.

The council said it has no problem with that suggestion and from now on, committee meeting announcements will be posted on the bulletin board at city hall.

In other business:

-Jensine Kurtti, a Blueberry Bugler reporter, presented a complaint to the council about not receiving public information the paper had requested.

City administrator Teri Osterman said the requested information included personnel files that she was not allowed to give out. However, all the public information the Blueberry Bugler requested was provided.

"We deal with this all of the time and we give out information that we can give out by the law," Osterman said.

Kurtti also presented the council with five questions that she wants answered.

"Are employee evaluations public record? What is Teri Osterman's official title and what are her authorities?" were two of the five questions.

The council didn't immediately answer the questions.

-The council approved a resolution for the Menahga Police Department to enter into a grant agreement with the Minnesota Department of Public Safety for the project entitled Safe & Sober Communities from Oct. 1 through Sept. 30, 2010.

-Menahga police chief Scott Koennicke presented the council with a rough draft of a new ATV and snowmobile ordinance. The council will discuss the ordinance again at next month's meeting.

-Ben Oleson from Community Growth Institute gave a presentation on comprehensive planning. This was the second presentation the council has heard on comprehensive planning this year.

-Councilwoman Maxine Norman told the council she would still like to see each committee write its own job description.

"I think it would help with Open Meeting Law as well," Norman said.

-Osterman announced that the council should receive bids for the CSAH 21 project by July 2. The council scheduled a public hearing will for Monday, July 6 at 6:30 p.m.