An eager Sturgis reader passes along the agenda for Tuesday's regular meeting of the Meade County Commission. My neighbor cocks an eyebrow at Commissioner Alan Aker's agenda item to put the bare minimum of information from county commission meetings on the public record:

Consider changing county commission minutes so that only motions and votes are published.

Proposal: County commission minutes would consist only of motions and votes.

  • Motions which are not seconded would be in the minutes.
  • Motions which are withdrawn would not be in the minutes.
  • When motions are modified with the consent of the maker and seconder, only the modified motion will be published.
  • Informational agenda items where no motion is made will not be published.
  • Comments from the audience will not be published.
  • Commissioners cannot request that editorial or informational statements be read into the minutes.
  • Comments from other county officials will not be published.
  • Veteran of the month will be published.
  • Deferrals by the chair or by motion will be published when the matter is a hearing, reading, or decision requiring notice to the public.

Commissioner Aker just can't do without the Veteran of the Month commendations, but he figures the public doesn't need any record of things actually said at commission meetings that shape the debate and decisions of their elected officials.

I glance at Meade County's February minutes and find that Commissioner Aker's proposal would deprive the public of the pleasure and wisdom gained from reading Commissioner Linda Rausch's declaration with respect to Exit 52 landscaping that "I love trees and I love the beauty and I hope this is going to be more beautiful. We are going to grow a lot of trees and it is not a lot of money, although $2500.00 is still a lot of money if it is in my pocket."

Perhaps Commissioner Aker is simply trying to live up to that tree-love by saving paper. But come on, Alan! Publishing doesn't cost that much. If anything, we should have more in the minutes, not less. If printing the minutes in the local paper is really draining the coffers, how about two versions of minutes: put the bare-bones minutes in the paper, but require detailed minutes online, where publication is almost free.