No more Mirror Pond secrecy

Bend city and park officials have come to their senses and decided to let the public in on meetings to decide Mirror Pond’s future.

Last week, they had made the outrageous decision to throw up a Great Wall of secrecy around the pond.

They changed their minds a day after The Bulletin protested.

Now they need to please keep it straight that government should not hide what’s going on from the public.

How did they get this so wrong?

Last month, the City Council and the park board formed a subcommittee to “select and refine a final preferred vision for the future of Mirror Pond.” The subcommittee also needs to sort out the dam’s future and the ownership of the land under the pond.

It held a meeting Tuesday at the Bend Park & Recreation District office to get started.

No public notice was provided of the meeting. No agenda was available.

When members of The Bulletin showed up, they were told they could not attend.

Don Horton, executive director of the Bend Park & Recreation District, said it’s not a public meeting.

Neil Bryant, the park district’s lawyer, was also there. We showed him some relevant statutes. We called our attorney.

One excuse they gave was that the subcommittee was not going to make a final decision. We showed them the minutes that say the committee is supposed to “select and refine a final preferred vision for the future of Mirror Pond.”

Bryant told us he had not researched the matter. On Wednesday, he prepared a confidential legal memo about the issue. Bend City Councilor Mark Capell, who is a member of the Mirror Pond subcommittee, called us after receiving the memo. He said future meetings would follow Oregon’s public meetings law.

Oregon’s law doesn’t insist that every single thing at a public meeting be done in public. There are exceptions, such as for legal and personnel matters and real estate negotiations. That gives the committee the ability to negotiate some sensitive issues privately.

It shouldn’t take a newspaper making a ruckus for city and park officials to know that the public should know what its government is doing.

Source: The Bulletin ©2013

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