Wed, July 17

Jerome sets fine example for rest of Valley to follow

The Jerome Town Council did something last week that every elected body and appointed board and commission in the Verde Valley would do well to emulate.

Council members as well as the members of Jerome's Planning & Zoning Commission, Design Review Board and Board of Adjustments took a refresher course on Arizona's Open Meeting Law. Phyllis Smiley and Susan Goodwin of Curtis, Goodwin, Sullivan, Udall & Schwab Law Firm summed up their presentation with the basic reality that the public's business must be conducted in public. Not only are elected councils considered public bodies, but so are all boards, commissions and committees appointed by the mayor and council.

The presentation further outlined the quorum requirements for public meetings and the official action allowed in such meetings as well as the legal uses of e-mail between the members of such bodies.

With new councils being seated in Cottonwood and Camp Verde in early June, officials there would be wise to plan a session to educate themselves on the reality of the Open Meeting Law as the folks in Jerome have done. Likewise, in Cottonwood, the city's new Airport Commission should receive such training before the gavel is struck to officially open the first meeting of this new advisory board. This training is as important to all city and town advisory boards and commissions as it is to those elected to office.

The folks in Jerome are to be commended for taking a proactive approach to making sure the manner in which they conduct the public's business is in accordance with what the law requires.

The rest of the Verde Valley would be wise to follow their example.