The Way I See It-Public participation in the decision making process is the law in Montana
By Paul Overlie
I’m sure a lot of people are looking for a follow-up story this week, or at least a something in this column – that ain’t gunna happen! Things are what they are and I need to sit back and see what the fallout from everything is going to entail.
But I will talk around the edges a bit. First off, I’m always for anyone exercising their constitutional rights… any time and anywhere. I may disagree with what you are talking about, protesting about, going through the judicial process over, etc. However, I will always be on your side for doing so. It is your ABSOLUTE RIGHT to do this. Speak out when you see something you think is wrong, protest when you see an injustice. Whether I think you are right or wrong, I will agree with you doing so. Anyone who doesn’t back you right to do so has a problem living in a free society.
But, remember, there can be consequences, you can’t violate the law and your rights end where my nose begins. Don’t get destructive, don’t get violent and don’t incite others to commit destructive or violent acts.
On a second note, I would like to see the most ardent antagonists come together and try to find some common ground to begin the process of moving forward and healing the rift that presently exists. The point of all my previous mutterings on issues over the past year and a half or so have been to try and get the school board to take that first step.
It didn’t happen then and it is not likely to happen now. I have tried to let things ride and stay out of the fray for many months now.
I guess memories are long when individuals feel you have “gored their favorite ox”, even when you’ve tried to stay on task and still make it clear that it is not your intent to denigrate anyone in the process.
I thought I stated clearly enough then that I felt there is a large communication and information dissemination gap between what many in the public want and what the school (board, administration, whatever) was giving out. I believe to this day that there is an obvious lack of desire to get out in front of issues that are clearly of compelling interest to the public.
Why do I feel the board needs to do this? Well because it is state law and constitutional law.
Montana Constitution – Article II, Section 8. Right of participation – The public has the right to expect governmental agencies to afford such reasonable opportunity for citizen participation in the operation of the agencies prior to the final decision as may be provided by law.
So what does the applicable law say…
MCA 2-3-103. (1) (a) Each agency shall develop procedures for permitting and encouraging the public to participate in agency decisions that are of significant interest to the public. The procedures must ensure adequate notice and assist public participation before a final agency action is taken that is of significant interest to the public.
In the interests of keeping this column manageable in size, I will not go into the rest of MCA 2-2-103 suffice it to say that it does go on to give guidelines on what an agency MUST do, but it does NOT limit what an agency CAN do to inform and assist the public. Nor does it limit a board or agency to the policy they have in place when more compelling circumstances do arise. They are allowed to call and emergency session, with no notice, when they have a situation arise that requires an immediate decision. On the other hand, they can post meeting agendas, especially in cases where as much public input as possible is wanted in, say, a special public meeting, as far ahead as they wish.
This is further codified in MCA 2-3-201 which states, in it’s entirety:
MCA 2-3-201. Legislative intent — liberal construction. The legislature finds and declares that public boards, commissions, councils, and other public agencies in this state exist to aid in the conduct of the peoples’ business. It is the intent of this part that actions and deliberations of all public agencies shall be conducted openly. The people of the state do not wish to abdicate their sovereignty to the agencies which serve them. Toward these ends, the provisions of the part shall be liberally construed.
Again, government agencies, including school boards, are given guidelines in what they MUST DO, but not in what they CAN or SHOULD DO to AID in the conduct of the PEOPLE’S business. In other words, this is our business, not the boards business. We abdicate our sovereignty at our discretion, not at the boards.
That’s the law, ‘nuff said.
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I’m thinking Donald Trump has gained his footing and will be a tough candidate to beat down the road. If this got down to a two, or even three, horse race then it might be different. Mr. Trump has yet to cross the 40% margin in any of the primaries so far. Should any of the other two top candidates find a way to consolidate the Bush voters to their cause; or should either Rubio or Cruz drop out, we might see if Donald Trump can really hold his own.
It seems to me that he is not garnering his share of the voters when other candidates drop out of the race. He continues to hover in that under 35% area that tends to be, largely, strong Trump supporters. I’m not saying he can’t win either the primary or the general election, but it would be very interesting to see what happens on Super Tuesday in a much smaller field; say two or three candidates. If things continue the way they are, Trump my very well win the vast majority of the delegates up for grabs March 1. No matter what the outcome when the primaries come to Montana, I won’t vote for him.Posted: by OverlieP