In the past month the Highland City Council briefly considered then declined a suggestion to hold its regular meetings monthly rather than semimonthly. The idea died at the council’s Finance and Personnel Subcommittee as a staff report demonstrated that the time savings would be heavily outbalanced by the limitations it would create for staff and council in meeting business.

It was a situation in which taking no action was the best action.

As a reporter, my first concern upon hearing the suggestion was the reduction of public forum, should city council meetings be reduced by half. At these meetings the public has the opportunity to see its city at work and to voice its concerns before its elected officials.

While I believe this was an earnest attempt to save time and create convenience for city staff, it would be a mistake to create systemic changes that move city business further from the public eye.

Studies and anecdotal evidence show that the more the public is engaged with its local government the more efficiently and forthright the city works.

I remember reading the “Los Angeles Times” coverage of the salary scandal in the city of Bell in 2010 and wondering how such elaborate corruption could have gone unnoticed.

As the investigative reporting transitioned into criminal investigation it was revealed that the town newspaper had closed up shop several years before and the frequency of city meetings reduced. When the Bell City Council did hold meetings few residents attended.

After the uncovering of the scandal, Bell residents became fervently involved with city affairs, guiding the city to a surprisingly quick and strong recovery.

The city has since become the example of the dangers of an out-of-touch and indifferent constituency as well as the benefits of an engaged public.

Fortunately, the Highland council and city staff recognizes the value of public input and transparency and dropped the idea of reducing council meetings.

Earlier this year the council also rejected a recommendation to eliminate all the city’s volunteer commissions and boards but the planning commission. Eliminating these boards would have similarly reduced the opportunities for city actions to be held before the public in open meetings.

Moving city actions from the council chambers to over the counter moves them out of public eye.

Utilize the council’s prudence by attending public meetings and being engaged residents.

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