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Home arrow Opinion arrow Editorials arrow No more secret ballots

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No more secret ballots

Voting by secret ballot is an amusing way to decide who picks up a dinner tab, but it’s no way to conduct public business.

Oregon’s Public Meetings Law is quite explicit on this.

The Baker County Transient Lodging Tax Committee blatantly violated that law on Monday when its members voted by secret ballot to decide which of two candidates for marketing director the committee would recommend to the county commissioners.

Commissioners, who have the final say, agreed with the committee’s recommendation to hire Timothy Bishop for the job.

Although the committee’s role is to advise, not decide, the state law still applies.

According to the law, any committee or board “that has the authority to make recommendations to a public body on policy or administration” must comply with the law.

The lodging tax committee obviously meets that standard.

And the law is equally clear about secret ballots:  they’re prohibited.

Fortunately, there’s no longer any valid reason for a public body — whether an advisory committee or a decision-making board — to be uninformed about the state’s public meetings and public records law.

It’s available online at the Attorney General’s Web site: www.doj.state.or.us/public_records/index.shtml. All citizens who volunteer to serve the public on boards or committees should bookmark it.

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