24 September 2016

County Clerk Does Not Indicate Commissioner Business in Public Record

The just issued Valentine newspaper report for the September 13, 2016 meeting of the Cherry County Commissioners has failed to meet standards essential for accurate reporting of official government business.

An item of prominent concern to county residents was simply omitted in the published minutes, which is an essential means for many to learn about commissioner business.

Following a report regarding the placement of electrical outlets at Sharp’s Campground along the Niobrara, which was passed unanimously by the three commissioners, the next item was not indicated.

This agenda item regarded the time for a public hearing to consider changes to the Cherry county zoning provisions regarding the placement of wind turbines. The changes had been requested by the county planning board.

A meeting will be held, according to a unanimously passed vote, at 2:15 p.m. on October 11th to consider a few immediate zoning regulations changes. They comprise a few words, perhaps a sentence, amidst a more expansive document.

There was a lively discussion associated with this agenda item, so it was not a minute or two occurrence to be ignored as a wonk might choose to do. It actually took a specific request to have one of the government officials actually indicate that they were talking about this item of concern to numerous residents of Cherry county, and elsewhere.

The published account did not include any of these comments.

There was no mention in the issued minutes of the members of the community which were in attendance and cared to be involved in local government. There were activitist from local communities  including the Kilgore vicinity and elsewheere in Cherry county that were certainly concerned about what may be pending changes.

When asked a few days later about this information, the county clerk was disagreeable, then accusatory along with the other worker in the county government office), but then eventually provided a hand-written account of the meeting notes. Tom Elliott initially tried to indicate that his notes were private and was being “kind” to provide them because he did not have to give them to anyone.

That point of view is obviously impossible as he is a government employee. His notes were taken during an official public meeting. And the notes were present in the official government office of Cherry county.

It cost some cents to purchase the copies, with two quarters left on the counter of the clerks office. Another employee in the office was also confrontational.

Once the details were known, my departure was immediate within seconds, to avoid anymore accusations.

My main point ... government officials are responsible to the their public to to an acceptable job. If not, it is their fault and they should not blame to public to trying to have accurate records.

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At the commissioner meeting on September 27th, the reason given for the indicated details not being included was that they were inadvertently missed, with something said about it being a busy day in the office.

The details were to be appended to the public record. After a specific request, the public record would also indicate a list of the people in attendance that were concerned with the topic, so name were provided.

The provision of including names prompted the county officials to prepare a sign-in list that was passed around so attendees could sign-in and indicate their post-office.