written by ANDREW SPEER (LTTE published 8/15 in the Valley Journal)

Well over 100 citizens requested city attorney James Raymond’s contract renewal to be placed on the July 2, 2012 city council agenda for discussion.  Automatic renewal for one year occurred without a discussion because it was not on the agenda.  Mr. Raymond placed his renewal clause in the city contract back in 2008, while acting as Polson City Manager.  Also in his contract, he requested a 1 year notice, ensuring his current employment for two more years.  So, why wasn’t such an important item on the agenda?  The mayor explained that city manager, Todd Crossett, decided not to put it on the agenda for that meeting, after he polled the city commissioners individually and found the majority did not wish to terminate the contract.  Some who have knowledge of these “backroom” negotiations say that is not what actually happened.

Transparency in government is essential.  On July 31, a written request to Mr. Crossett asked him to specify how each commissioner “voted” to determine how this “majority” was reached.  No word from Mr. Crossett so on August 8th a second written request was submitted.   Still no response has been received.

I feel that there is a concerted effort to block public information to its citizens by the city manager using the agenda process and minutes. The minutes have not been posted online since May 17, thus making it almost impossible to follow city government proceedings.  I am also disappointed that the public does receive respect or even acknowledgment during the public comment portion at city council meetings.  We can do better than this.