Saturday, February 03, 2007

Nichols Wants Closed Door, Back Room, Hidden From The Public, Government

At the Chamber of Commerce’s Candidate night, and in a recent story in the Post written by Mark Schlinkman, former Mayor Grace Nichols, who is a candidate for Mayo,r makes the statement, “What is needed is a strong mayor who can sit down with council members and work out the differences behind closed doors without having this public acrimony going on,” she (Nichols) said.

This statement made by Nichols, who is an attorney and former Circuit judge, and served two previous terms as Mayor, is in direct violation of the Sunshine Law.

Backroom, closed doors politics often lead to shady deals and special favors for special interests. Keeping things out of the view of the public is not a healthy government and often leads to wide spread corruption.

Councilman John Gieseke Ward 8, who is also a candidate for Mayor, told the First Capitol News, “While often times it may appear we argue a lot, that is what makes good government. Each side gets to make their story known and efforts are made to get the others to agree with your opinion. We felt it was so important for the public to know all the opinions in City government we even had the City Council work sessions televised. While our Council meetings sometimes have an appearance of confrontation within the council, every government has it. If there were not a difference of opinion with each member trying to convince the others you would just have a bunch of yes people. Then we would have a dictatorship with one person making all the decisions. That also leads to corruption with only the rich getting richer and with the average residents not having a chance.”

Gieseke also said, “It is wrong for government to have the attitude of ‘Keep it quiet and don’t let anybody know. Just keep it our secret. What public don’t know wont hurt them’.”

The legislature passed the Sunshine Law just to prevent this type of government. Any time you have backroom, closed door government you run the risk of having special favors for special interests at the expense of the tax paying residents.

Prior Council members who served on the City Council during Nichol’s tenure as Mayor said when Nichols was Mayor she did have a lot of back room meetings. The problem was they were never with the Council and the Council never knew what she was doing. One Councilman stated that was the main reason when she ran for reelection 12 years ago not one Council member supported her.

The First Capitol News could not reach Mayor York for comment but we are aware that she has never attempted to stop the televising of any of the meetings.