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Bankers’ hours | Editorial

Quote of the week goes to Kitsap County Commissioner Josh Brown who said, “When I hear from them that it needs to be in the evening, it’s not an honest assessment from them,” in response to citizen testimony given during a public hearing.

Brown’s disparaging response sheds light on the eventual outcome of the Board of County Commissioners move this week to change regular meeting times to fit within bankers’ hours. The three commissioners on the board simply want to work less and show that they are willing to cut away the little public participation remaining in the county’s bureaucracy.

Citing lack of public participation and attendance, the BOCC argues there is no need to hold public forums during non-work hours. Perhaps instead of serving themselves, the BOCC could engage the community they are to serve.

The proposed move to morning meetings would make life easier for our newspaper staff too, but we don’t support the attempt to cut public participation, and it should not happen.

Though the public galley may often be empty during evening meetings, citizens have the chance to watch live on cable T.V. at home. Until meetings are available live online, most citizens would have zero chance to view or participate in the one part of county government they have access to without taking a day off from work.

Right now, the BOCC is lobbying the Legislature – at a $60,000-a-year cost to taxpayers – for greater local control of revenue raising and use constraints currently in place. As the three members of the BOCC seek more autonomy, they also propose to limit their accountability and direct exposure to the citizenry by holding Monday morning meetings.

Perhaps they are too burdened by the rigors of their executive jobs, for which they are paid more than $100,000 annually. The switch to morning meetings is nothing less than an attempt to lighten their work load. In the face of public criticism, the BOCC calls on-the-record the public concern  “cute” and disingenuous. It’s simply demeaning.

Meetings should be scheduled when the largest percentage of the at-large public can attend, not at the connivence of well-paid elected leaders who prefer to keep bankers’ hours.

 

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