To the board of alderman from a recent alderwoman

An opinion by Laura Wagner
Complacency is a leader’s worst enemy. Coming from a former alderwoman, I fear that the current board may be becoming complacent in how city meetings are being held. This can be seen, for example, in the most recent meeting held by the Mountain View Board of Alderman on August 8.
Meetings adhere to an agenda which is laid out in a manner where each item is listed in order and discussed in that order. This gives community members an idea of what is going to happen at a meeting. If an item is not on the agenda, then it cannot be discussed or voted on by the board unless the agenda is amended before the meeting begins. The ‘Mayor Minutes’, along with some closed session items have been pushing the line on several meetings, and at the most recent meeting the mayor called for a vote of something that was not listed on the agenda.
In the Aug. 8 meeting, Mayor John Krasuski asked the council to consider the purchase of a new pump to replace the last dilapidated one in the lift station. If the board is going to vote on spending the taxpayers’ dollars, it should be on the agenda under old or new business. Fortunately, the board of alderman disagreed and did not want to authorize any spending of money for a lift station.
At the conclusion of the Aug. 8 meeting the board of alderman went into closed session. Typically, closed session is to discuss legal actions, causes of action or litigation; leasing, purchasing or sale of real estate where public knowledge might adversely affect the amount paid in the transaction; hiring, firing, disciplining or promoting a particular employee; personnel records; etc. As stated in the Missouri Sunshine Law 610.022 – “Any meeting or vote closed pursuant to section 610.021 shall be closed only to the extent necessary for the specific reason announced to justify the closed meeting or vote. Public governmental bodies shall not discuss any business in a closed meeting, record or vote which does not directly relate to the specific reason announced to justify the closed meeting or vote.”
When the board came back into open session, they voted on allowing Sanitation Supervisor Dave Abbey to purchase needed recycle bags for the year. This is something that should have been discussed in open session. Since it was discussed in closed session there is not a record immediately available to the public on how much the city authorized the sanitation department to spend on the recycle bags. Coming from someone who has sat through many hours of closed session meetings, I can see where the board, unintentionally, may have discussed things better suited for open session. Discussions can and do branch off from the initial topic, but the board must also strictly adhere to the Sunshine Law.
I’m not saying the board of alderman is trying to hide anything. I do think that after a few years of recovery the board may have become a little laxed in how they handle the day-to-day formalities of governing the city. As John C. Maxwell said, “Of all the things a leader should fear, complacency heads the list.”
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