August 11, 2014

No need for secrecy with Renaissance

At Wednesday's City Council meeting, officials plan to hold a closed-door, executive session to talk about negotiations between the city, the Bristol Downtown Development Corp. and Renaissance Downtowns.
Let's assume it's just dandy under the state open government laws for that to happen. It probably is.
But just because something can be discussed in secret doesn't mean it must be done out of the public's view.
And in this case at least, it's hard to see any justification for it.
Renaissance is supposed to be coming up with an alternative plan to begin its Depot Square project. The BDDC will likely review it soon. That plan will be made public, officials have already told me.
At the same time, there's a Hartford real estate outfit performing an independent review. I think its work, which is due for completion this month, will also be public.
What the council does will be public. What the BDDC does will be public. What Renaissance does will be public. What Goman+York does will be public.
The only thing that isn't going to be public is, oddly, the discussion by the city's elected leaders.
That doesn't make a whit of sense. What are they doing in secret that can't be said or done in the open?
At the very least, they ought to explain in a whole lot more depth what the heck they're thinking and why before they disappear into a little room with no cameras and no audience.
Adherence to the idea and spirit of open government is a whole lot more important than mere obedience to the terms of the law.

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