December 22, 2011 in City

Closed meetings lead to resignation

Connor of Center for Justice quits mayor-elect’s team
By The Spokesman-Review
 
History

The debate about the openness of mayoral transition teams isn’t new. In 2007, Mayor Mary Verner at first declined to release the names of the people who would serve on her transition team. Eventually – after she got all of their permission – the names were made public.

The portion of the Mayor-elect David Condon’s transition team devoted to public safety has decided to keep its discussions confidential, leading one member to quit the group.

Tim Connor, communications director of the Center for Justice, announced in an email to Condon this week that he resigned from the committee as a result of the decision to keep deliberations secret.

Condon said transition team meetings weren’t made open to the public because he wanted to make sure that the nearly 80 members of his transition team felt comfortable enough to bring up any idea. He added that he didn’t want volunteer private citizens to feel that they had to engage with the press “on a regular basis.”

Condon said he briefed all the leaders of the subcommittees that they should be responsive and open to the media. He said he’s still asking the public to submit ideas for the city to his website, condontransition.org. About 100 people have sent ideas so far, he said. He said he regrets Connor decided to leave because he wanted to include his perspective.

Connor said no one else on the committee supported keeping the exchanges open.

“My experience has taught me that any candor lost in the commitment to openness is more than made up for by the inherently disciplining ‘sunshine’ that openness allows,” he said in his email.

At his first news conference after the election, Condon said that “voters clearly want a City Hall that’s open, accountable and responsive.”

Connor said he was impressed with much of the discussion that occurred in the first meeting he attended, but that he couldn’t go into detail because he’s decided to abide by the agreement out of courtesy to the rest of the transition team. He resigned before the second meeting, which occurred this week.

“I’m disappointed that what I thought was a commitment to openness was reversed in short order,” Connor said. “I’m not leaving to protest. I’m leaving because I don’t feel good about being there.”


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