Joe Owens' Sunday column, and that pretty much says it all. Having been caught red-handed in a clear Right-to-Know Law violation over a note that Council member Tom Dietrich passed to Ann McHale during a public meeting, Council followed that up on Thursday night with a Sunshine Act breach. It directed Solicitor Phil Lauer, behind closed doors, to appeal the matter.
When they spoke to Owens, both Lamont McClure and John Cusick insist there was no formal vote behind closed doors. It's still "official action" and violates the open meetings law. "Official action," as defined by the Sunshine Act, can also include the establishment of policy, recommendations, or decisions on agency business. So a "consensus" directing Lauer to appeal is precisely the kind of action that should take place in public.
This was, as Owens pointed out, a double dip assault on open government. When forced by Ron Angle to vote on what they had already decided to do behind closed doors, the consensus fell apart.
People are willing to do all kinds of things when they don't have to take responsibility. That's what Dietrich thought when he passed a note to Ann McHale in the middle of a meeting accusing Angle and Charles Chrin of bribery. McHale can be seen and heard agreeing with him, too, on the county's video.
Dietrich has had numerous opportunities to share his accusations with the public. In fact, seconds after he passed the note to McHale, they both declined to share it when Angle asked about it. Dietrich hid behind McHale's skirt that night, pretty much like a coward. Since that time, he's refused to man up, and is now hiding behind a lawyer..
Interestingly, I am condemned in all the comments that accompany Joe's column. Of course, they come from people who, like Dietrich, refuse to accept responsibility for what they write. One of them, "lovestokickpigs," is an identity created just today, obviously for the express purpose of bashing me.
What I do know is that I will soon be getting that note, and it will reveal that Dietrich accused both Angle and Charles Chrin of participating in some sort of bribery scheme, and that Ann McHale agreed with him. I'd like to know more about this serious accusation and, of course, the basis for making it.