Funk and Wagnalls defines “committee” as “a group of people chosen to
investigate, report, or act on a matter.”
The same dictionary also defines the word “choose” as meaning “to select as
most desirable; take by preference.”
Apparently, members of the Porter Town Council need to brush up on their
reading comprehension skills. A committee’s not a committee within these
town limits, and selecting who will be on the council’s “fact-finding group”
isn’t really choosing its members at all.
Crafty politicians are well-schooled in antics with semantics, but that
isn’t likely to be the motive here. So why would the Town Council resist
legitimizing the very committee it created to investigate and report on
probably the most controversial issue in the community—whether to renovate,
sell or demolish the town hall?
Initially it was stated the committee would consist of three citizen members
and they were chosen. As of Tuesday, one was booted off, another appointed
and the committee apparently expanded to five members with two appointments
pending and volunteers being sought.
No motion, no second, no public vote; but that doesn’t mean the council had
no hand in any of it. To the contrary. Its fingerprints (or at the very
least its presiding officers) are all over this committee.
Perhaps the more important issue is, why wouldn’t the council want this
committee to conduct its meetings publicly? Tuesday, council President
Kathryn Kozuszek said she didn’t think it was necessary but would consider
The Indiana Open Door Law clearly states that official action of public
agencies—and those committees to which they delegate authority—shall be
conducted and taken openly, unless otherwise expressly provided by statute,
in order that the people may be fully informed. Porter’s Town Hall
Committee, no matter what its name, is clearly an extension of the Town
Council and therefore subject to the same open-meetings laws as any
The members of the Town Hall Committee are undoubtedly good people concerned
about Porter’s future, willing to give of their time and talents to serve
their community. We applaud that commitment, but their meetings shouldn’t be
conducted around someone’s kitchen table.
How the Town Hall Committee receives information, deliberates and arrives at
its conclusions could be unfairly rejected by some because the committee did
their work behind closed doors.
Let’s face facts. These busy people are not just doing council members a
favor. They’re not just satisfying their own idle curiosity. The Town Hall
Committee is assembling information elected officials will rely upon in the
future to make important, far-reaching decisions with potentially
significant financial implications for Porter taxpayers. The committee is,
in fact, going about the public’s business and should do it publicly.
So far, the Porter Town Council hasn’t been willing to concede it made a
mistake and correct it. There is no shame in doing that, only in repeatedly
making the same mistake. There’s still time for the council to recover from
its initial stumble and put the Town Hall Committee on the solid footing it
needs to begin its important work.