by Melissa Brunner
The investigation into the taking of scrap metal from a job site by four city workers again raises the question of how much the public should know and when they should know it.
City administrators have called it a personnel issue. They did not get police involved in the September incident until months later (February), under pressure from the Council. In the midst of that, they denied media requests to see the documentation of their internal investigation. But the City Council still has questions and wants them answered. In a unanimous vote, they subpoenaed the documents related to the administration's investigation. Those documents were produced this week and now sit in the City Clerk's office for council members only to review.
What happens next is the question. And what do you think should happen next? If council members look at the documents and say, "You know, I guess this was handled appropriately. We're satisfied," do you accept that? Or do you feel you should be able to get a look at what's in those documents yourself and make your own judgment? At the very least, do you want the council to have an open discussion about them in the course of a regular meeting?
If the documents are not released or discussed publicly, it's possible we'll get some hints of what they might say in the form of proposals to change or implement policies and procedures. Perhaps you don't think the incident is even an issue, but if no one is allowed to ask questions, we'll never know if what happened uncovers something that points to a larger problem which needs to be addressed.