March 24, 2010

ACLU challenges Governor's task force

The Nevada chapter of the ACLU is challenging Governor Gibbons's claim that his recently created education task force is exempt from Nevada's open meeting laws:

The American Civil Liberties Union of Nevada says the meetings of Gov. Jim Gibbons’ Blue Ribbon Task Force on Education should be open to the public.

Keeping the meetings closed is a violation of Nevada’s Open Meeting Law, which could be a misdemeanor, says Margaret A. McLetchie, interim southern program director of the ACLU.

Elizabeth Crum over at the Nevada News Bureau makes an excellent point:

My question is this: Why not open the meetings up regardless of the legalities? What possible reason could there be for keeping these meetings closed? If the purpose of the panel is to (1) help the state figure out how to competently process its way through the Race to the Top application and (2) come up with ideas to reform our sorry educational system, why can’t the public sit in?

The Legislature created Nevada's open meeting statutes to ensure transparency and accountability in state government. While a lawyer might be able to find some legal loophole that exempts this task force, why would they want to do that? If this task force ultimately makes education recommendations to the Governor, the public should see how the task force came to its decisions.

Our leaders need to reject the idea that the public is best served by keeping the decision making process in the dark.