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Renate Cannon got it right

One thing about government meetings, there's rarely anyone in attendance unless it's their ox getting gored or someone wants something from the particular body holding the purse strings.

But not so the Levy County Commission meetings. They are well attended by a small but devoted group of people who keep an eye on business and do not hesitate to bring public officials up short when needed.

One such person is Renate Cannon (and her faithful sidekick Barney Cannon).

She stood up at a recent meeting and asked the county commission why they were paying a labor lawyer high fees to negotiate their contracts when he had failed the basic test of doing business in the sunshine.

She was referring to a scheduled negotiation session with the union representing the Department of Public Safety employees that was not noticed to the public. And as a result had to be cancelled.

She also suggested he should not be paid his hourly fee for that cancelled session.

Next item up was a noise ordinance being discussed and passed that the general public had not seen, nor had the opportunity to comment on.

Cannon was pretty angry.

"How are we supposed to comment if we do not know what it says?" Cannon asked the county commissioners.

True, the ordinance had been in discussion for a number of months as County Attorney Anne Bast Brown drafted it.

But unless you were a county commissioner or a member of the media, you would not have had an advance copy of the ordinance.

Every one offered Cannon a copy of the ordinance, but she said that did not help her as the commission was just moments away from passing it.

She complained that commissioners have supporting documents in their binders that the public is not privy to.

They should get them out before the meeting, she said.

A small discussion ensued and the commission decided it would start posting the documents online with the agenda at the county website, levycounty.org.

The county posts the agenda on the Friday before the Tuesday meeting. So they scanned and posted the documents for their Dec. 22 meeting. They will continue to do so.

Way back when, before the Levy County Clerk Danny Shipp took a $40,000 renovation job and turned it into an $82,000 job there was a small table that in the commission room whre the public could look over a binder similar to the commissioners.

The binder is now at the riser where County Coordinator Fred Moody sits because there is nowhere to display it. But few know it is there. That must change. Now.

For several weeks after the renovation, the two large TVs in the meeting room would display the agenda and some documents. But now they only seem to display PowerPoint presentations if the presenter's laptop plays nice. Otherwise the TVs sit mute and blackened.

Regretfully, the Chiefland Citizen, which receives advance copies of the agenda and documents on Friday has failed to scan and post the supporting documents. We have that capability, so shame on me. That will change.

I have also haphazardly posted the Chiefland, Bronson and Fanning Springs agendas. Chiefland has emailed the entire agenda and supporting documentation for several years and posts it on their web site as well. They are to be commended.

Bronson has a spotty track record of sending the agenda and documents before 3:30 p.m. on the day of the 7 p.m. meeting.

Cedar Key emails and sends agendas and documents. Fanning Springs has not caught up.

Renate Cannon is to be commended for bringing this county a little bit of sunshine to public business.

Lou Elliott Jones can be contacted at 352-493-4796 or at editor@chieflanfdcitizen.com