Tuesday, January 29, 2008
Onamia Takes Charges
Mille Lacs News Staff Writer
Up until May of 2007, citizens could
obtain city government documents, such as copies of the city council agenda
and copies of meeting minutes, for free. But when the council's prized NEXUS
Project came under scrutiny by outraged residents who oppose the government
acting as agents for the multi-million dollar private corporation, forcing
convicted male sex offenders into a residential neighborhood, the council
retaliated against Nay-sayers by a unanimous vote to charge citizens 25
cents per page.
"Attending city council meetings has
gotten to be quite pricy," said one Bradbury citizen. "Nay-saying is
25 cents per page adds
up quickly. Some Nexus Opponents complain of having to spend $25 or more
just to obtain one copy of the agenda for one meeting.
"Its no wonder people don't want to get
involved in their local government. Who can afford it?" an Onamia citizen
exclaimed. "I thought about getting one copy of the agenda, then running off
a bunch copies to sell at the door for only 20 cents per page! Undercut
them. Seriously, you know that they [the city council] did this just to
J.J. Swift, out-spoken
Nexus opponent agrees. "Kathleen McCullum, the city clerk told me that we're
the only ones who request copies of documents. Its bad enough that the
government is invading our neighborhood with their sex offenders, we have to
pay to read about how they intend to screw us next. Then we have to
pay to read about the city council meetings we attended to see if they
reported the minutes accurately. Its a shameful situation."
Onamia seems to be unique in charging citizens for agendas
and meeting minutes. Nearby cities of Garrison, Wahkon, and Isle freely
distribute their meeting agendas to the public, citing that they are glad to
have citizen involvement. Charging citizens money for these documents serves
to distance them and thwart their interest. Onamia is the only city in the
area which sees fit to charge.
At the Mille Lacs County courthouse, there
is a stack of agendas right inside of the county board meeting room door.
Everyone who attends the meetings can have copies of the agenda for free.
Meeting minutes are posted on the county's website, available for free.
Is the Onamia city government punishing citizens who oppose
them? Are they really trying to thwart citizen involvement? Considering that
nobody else was charged before the Not-Nexus-Never! Nay-sayers arrived at
city hall, one has to wonder.