Jackson County Legislature Extraordinary Secrecy, Without Ethics – Day 99 of the Jackson County Ethics Blackout

When a legislative body sttempts to exempt itself from an Ethics Code, and to deny the Charter-granted right of its citizens to oversee its ethics, the wisest course of action is to start with the assumption that they are up to something untoward. No benefit of the doubt goes to those who insist they are above the scrutiny and accountability they would impose on others.

In that light, yesterday’s hijinks at the Jackson County Legislature ought to be raising eyebrows. Chair Scott Burnett introduced a last-minute resolution calling for a closed meeting, excluding the press and citizens from knowing what the Legislature is up to. Typically, such resolutions are introduced at the meeting preceding such an extraordinary action, but this one was introduced and acted upon without normal notice. The exception to the Sunshine Law relied upon by the Legislature was RSMo 610.021(1) – “Legal actions, causes of action or litigation involving a public governmental body and any confidential or privileged communications between a public governmental body or its representatives and its attorneys.”

The Jackson County legislature is lawyering up again? What is it this time? Is somebody trying to explain in simple terms to Henry Rizzo that the City is under no legal obligation to spend $2,000,000 on public safety rather than entertainment for suburbanites? Are Tarwater and Tindall fighting it out over the disputed chairmanship of the Anti-Drug Committee? Is yet another federal investigation for corruption focusing on the Jackson County Legislature – a fresh chapter in the rich history of Jackson County crime and corruption?

We can only guess at what went on behind those closed doors. We can be certain, however, that the Jackson County legislature has exempted itself from Ethical Home Rule, and now it feels the need to have emergency meetings about secrets.

Is that the type of government Jackson County deserves?

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