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Reader Opinion: CWC Board secret voting

People of Crow Wing County, we can do much, much better than this, so let’s do it.

Stack of newspapers on a laptop computer.
We are part of The Trust Project.

Brainerd goes above and beyond and that’s why I’m proud to be a Brainerd citizen.

But there’s a stark difference between the city of Brainerd and the Crow Wing County Board.

Brainerd provides all city council meetings and virtually every committee meeting on YouTube, while CWC only provides the regular board of commissioner meetings and a Committee of the Whole meeting on YouTube.

COVID-19 was responsible for CWC providing their Budget Committee meeting on YouTube, but one day back in January, a dark cloud fell over the county commissioners.

They participated in a secret vote using their email.

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Commissioners Franzen, Barrows, Brekken and Houge voted, using their email, yes, by email, to move the Budget Committee meetings behind a locked door and to no longer provide this important meeting to the public to view at their leisure on YouTube.

So now there isn't any public record at all of these meetings. No minutes, no video, no audio, nothing, zip.

Much of what is discussed in the budget meetings is carried forward to a Regular Board of Commissioner meeting. These items previously discussed are typically placed on the Consent Calendar where all items are usually passed in one motion without any public discussion at all.

Don’t forget, we’re talking about a $100 million dollar budget here, folks, and there isn’t any public record of county board members deliberating on how they figure out how much to charge you in taxes.

Oh sure, you’ll hear board members say you can always attend the budget meeting in person or on Teams, but that’s only if you can make the 9 a.m. Thursday morning meeting, and still, there won’t be any record of the meeting.

People of Crow Wing County, we can do much, much better than this, so let’s do it!

Dottie Smith

Brainerd

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