Open and Transparent? You be the judge
Posted by auroracitizen on August 6, 2010
A familiar refrain throughout the Morris Regime has been that she fosters an Open and Transparent Council environment; an Open and Transparent Council process; she’s Open and Transparent. She makes that statement at virtually every council meeting.
Similarly, we heard this throughout her campaign in 2006 as if to differentiate herself from Tim Jones and the “back room boys”. She would open the doors to the “backroom” and bring all the council business into the open where all the public could see for themselves what goes on behind closed doors.
Well, that might be what she’s selling, but we’re not buying.
We’ve heard from many posters and many residents and many “insiders” alike that Morris et al have spent more time behind those closed doors – doing god knows what – than any other Council in recent memory. Every single Council meeting seems to have a closed session meeting. Everything seems to need a “secret” meeting to discuss, decide and I assume defend the decisions they are making.
Thus far though, those “allegations” as Poppe the apologist calls them, have not been based on tangible, provable, facts. We’ve only had impressions, or thoughts, or observations of meetings and Town hall going’s on upon which to base our suppositions. We know in our gut that all is not right but had nothing to prove it.
Until now that is.
As a by-product of an FOI request, we have been provided with a complete list of EVERY closed door session of Council from 2000 through 2009. It includes start time and end time of each closed session.
This list is a veritable goldmine of information, not the least of which is that it is proof positive that Phyllis Morris is as transparent as a block of wood.
The pie chart you see above is wholly accurate. The 2006 – 2010 (and before anyone and argues we’ve skewed the figures by comparing a 4 year term to three year terms – we used figures from 2007 – 2009 only; so it is an accurate comparison).
Here are the stark figures folks: Since Phyllis Morris took office, the Town of Aurora council has spent more time meeting in secret, behind closed doors, than the last two terms of council combined and then some!! It also shows that more than 30 percent of those meetings started at or beyond the hour of adjournment and a staggering 60 % ended well past 10:30. It begs the question, “Just what the heck are they talking about into the wee hours of the morning??”
Getting back to the numbers though, to be exact the breakdown of time spent in secret meetings is as follows:
|Total # closed sesion meetings:||63||73||103|
|Total # meetings starting at or beyond hour of adjournment:||1||12||28|
|Total # meetings ending at or beyond hour of adjournment:||3||24||61|
|Total Time spent in closed session:||30hrs 20mins||52hrs 49mins||115hrs 21mins|
|Average length of meeting in closed session:||29||43||1hr 7mins|
Look at those numbers — 115 hours and 21 minutes or 6921 minutes!!!! They are simply staggering. The difference between this term and last term is a DOUBLING of time spent in secret discussions.
How can Morris continue to claim that she is “Open and Transparent”? Is she being deliberately obtuse or are secret meetings simply how she thinks Town Business should be handled?
Look at the numbers another way. If a Council meting is, through by-law, generally 3.5 hours long, and this Council has spent over 115 hours behind closed doors, then that means this Council has spent the equivalent of 33 full council meetings deliberating in secret.
That’s right. The equivalent of 33 full council meetings held in secret.
If that’s open and transparent government, then possibly you would be interested in a bridge for sale in Brooklyn …