By HDN Editorial Staff
Just what is the definition of an open meeting?
Does it include shutting the doors to the press?
Apparently the state Democratic Party thinks it does, since Executive Director Brad Martin told an Associated Press reporter he had to leave during a meeting that had been advertised as open. During the meeting the executive board of the party was reportedly going to examine why the party lost almost all major elections in the state.
Why wouldn't the Democrats want the press there? Was it just too embarrassing? Were they discussing secret strategies? Do they have something to hide?
If a meeting is advertised as open, it means anyone, from the press or not, is allowed to attend. Telling someone after it starts that they have to leave is what is embarrassing. If the Democratic Party's executive board wants to conduct secret meetings, they should be secret. Then it would be the job of the press to report that they are holding secret meetings, and ask why they are doing so.
Politics should be a public matter. Discussing what the Democratic Party should do to strengthen its electoral possibilities should be open to all Democrats, and even to Republicans, Libertarians or whatever party someone belongs to.
Keeping a meeting truly open would allow more views to be shared, to the benefit of everyone. If the amount of people who can give input is limited, then there will be limited input. Allowing everyone who reads a paper to read about the meeting would have allowed everyone who reads a newspaper to contact the party and give their input.
Kicking the press out of a public meeting brings back visions of the Chicago Machine of decades past. It makes you wonder what they were discussing at that meeting. Probably all very legal and above board, of course.
Party officials have said since the elections that they must change their focus, change how they present themselves and their party's ideas. Kicking the press out of a meeting to discuss how to do that probably wasn't the best way to start.