Local Governments Are Hard to Find as Coronavirus Ends Public Meetings

Communities across the country are finding themselves in a bind as they try to pass urgent legislation to combat the coronavirus pandemic at the same time public meetings are impossible.

Open-government advocates say many city councils, school boards and other governing bodies are failing at the task, holding meetings that are inaccessible to the public, rushing actions without proper deliberation and impeding access to public records.

“When transparency is removed, so is the trust,” said Daniel Bevarly, executive director of the National Freedom of Information Coalition, a group that advocates for open government. Mr. Bevarly said his group has received numerous complaints from private citizens and local journalists concerned about access to government during the coronavirus pandemic.

In Bellmead, Texas, a suburb of Waco, Mayor Travis Gibson says he is considering legal action against the very government he runs after four City Council members held a meeting in defiance of his emergency order banning gatherings of 10 people or more. Read more…