Closed city meeting not a good idea [UPDATED]Published 4:23am Monday, June 24, 2013 Updated 6:27am Monday, June 24, 2013
During a meeting on June 12 related to the development of the Regional Treatment Center facility, the Fergus Falls City Council met in closed session for 30 minutes. Members of the media and others in attendance were told it was to discuss the details of the real estate transaction. This closed session was not on the agenda made available to the media.
It is likely members of the Fergus Falls City Council were within their legal rights to close the meeting. That said, considering the importance and public interest related to the development of the RTC, a closed meeting seems inappropriate.
The Fergus Falls City Council is a public entity, and was given state funding to maintain, develop or demolish the RTC.
Many in Fergus Falls — from those who are concerned the development will result in lost tax dollars to those who want to save the Kirkbride building at all costs — have a keen interest in the council’s decision, and the information members receive to make the decision.
Closing a meeting might have been more convenient for city council members, who want to freely ask questions and discuss the issue without fear of being quoted. Considering the public interest, however, what council members think regarding the RTC is in the public’s interest.
Legal or not, we believe the council should have kept that meeting open, and we hope council members will consider their duty to conduct business in an open manner when closed meetings are suggested in the future.