By Tim Ravndal
Open meeting laws are continually making headlines in the real news coverage of local government meetings across Montana. Efforts to ensure that the citizens are afforded a fair opportunity to participate in the public meetings has been challenging for many that work when these meetings are being held.
Conservative News From Montana regularly asks questions during the public meetings to help effect clarity on issues before the local county commission meetings. Under Article II Section 8 of the Constitution of Montana the people have the right to participate. Since the plandemic many of the meetings across Montana are being held remotely using a video conferencing technology to conduct those meetings in public view.
Many of the citizens we spoke to regarding the “Zoom” meetings mentioned the ability to hear discussions clearly have been severely challenging. Others openly brought forward concerns regarding even finding the live video of the meeting. The right to participate in open meetings is strained with the plandemic lockdown.
Under Article II Section 9, the right to know is also front and center. With the law under Title 7 of Montana Codes Annotated, the duty of the elected officials is on the table to ensure that the public knows in advance what actions are being taken by their elected officials. These rights are further protected under Title 2 of the Montana Codes Annotated where laws are codified to protect the rights of the citizens of Montana.
In the quest of transparency it is found to be a common challenge for citizens to find relief. When citizens rights under the Constitution are called into question it becomes a monumental task for transparency. In an earlier article on this important issue, we exposed many instances where alleged violations of these rights were being committed in Broadwater County.
A case is still pending in the First Judicial District Court under Judge Menahan where the local government failed to adhere to a law regarding public records. Montana First Judicial District court and Montana Federal Circuit Court have other recorded cases where transparency and accountability have been called into question in Broadwater County multiple times.
Now that Montana has backed off on the plandemic lockdown there are several counties like Broadwater that are returning to open meetings. The ability for the people to participate before decisions are made is essential to an open representative form of government. It is here that the people we spoke to are eager to see a restoration of the public trust.
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