Hickory Daily Record: Council meeting was an exercise in open government

From the Hickory Daily Record (5/2/12): The Hickory City Council meeting on Tuesday was an exercise in open government. A Hickory resident took advantage of a statement on the agenda to force discussion on an issue, and the state's open records law was illuminated for all to hear.

Many public bodies – city councils and county commissions – have consent agendas that combine several issues that are voted on as one item. These issues have been subjected to previous analysis and board members are familiar with them. In the Hickory City Council’s case, the consent agenda contains matters that have been voted on once and are listed for a second vote as required by law. A consent agenda issue is removed from the package if requested by a council member and the request approved by majority vote.

But a resident can ask for the removal of a specific item, too. Tuesday night, Rebecca Inglefield of Hickory stood up prior to the consent agenda vote and asked for separate consideration of two items. At first, she was told that a resident had to submit a written request prior to a meeting. Inglefield countered that a statement on every agenda available at council meetings said otherwise.

She was right. “Just stand and voice your desire to the Mayor and Council,” the agenda advised. Apparently there is a discrepancy between the statement and the city code. Such conflicts are not the problem of the public, but of the governing body, a fact recognized by Hickory City Attorney John Crone who said the discrepancy will be resolved.

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