There are aspects of tonight’s State of the County event that are contrary to public good.
In the spirit of full disclosure, you should know the Craig Daily Press is a co-sponsor of the event, which brings local leaders together to speak with the public about the last year of decisions, projects and other areas of public interest.
The newspaper’s involvement with State of the County entailed providing the event’s primary organizer, the Craig Chamber of Commerce, with free advertising and helping coordinate with Gov. John Hickenlooper’s office regarding his participation.
The newspaper, however, failed in its role as a public watchdog.
The Chamber has made a questionable decision — the organization will not allow people without a ticket to attend tonight’s event.
This policy goes against past years, in which the Chamber allowed people who couldn’t afford a ticket (this year $40 for Chamber members, $50 for non-members) to still come to the event and hear their elected leaders speak.
Those people without a ticket couldn’t eat dinner, but they could stand in the back of the room and listen.
Another problem is with our local governments, the Craig City Council and Moffat County Commission, which are possibly in violation of open meetings laws by participating in an event tonight that could be considered a public meeting.
The Daily Press questioned the Chamber earlier about its policy on attendance and we should have pressed the issue further. We also should have checked with the council and commission much earlier regarding their participation. If there was a problem, we should have identified it much sooner than the eve of the event.
For that, we apologize.
And we’re trying to make it right.
The Daily Press will purchase tickets for those wanting to attend tonight’s event but cannot afford it, if tickets are available. Anyone interested should contact the newspaper at 824-7031 today.
In the meantime, the newspaper encourages the Chamber and its board to reexamine what we feel is an exclusionary policy. We also encourage the city council and county commission to request the Chamber soften its stance, as well.
Politics and meeting laws aside, there’s a fundamental right at risk of being violated today.
Those are the rights of taxpayers to have access to their government.
The Chamber has done a wonderful job organizing an event with fantastic speakers tonight, including the governor.
The newspaper is simply asking that everyone be afforded their right to hear them speak.