The first "Alpine" Open Meetings Act case started, ironically enough, not with secret face-to-face meetings but with e-mails written between council members, allegedly a criminal violation of the Open Meetings Act ["City Hall Hustle: Absence of Evidence Is Not Evidence of Absence
," News, March 25]. The principles of open government in the decision handed down recently affirm the public's right "to observe how and why every decision [by public officials] is reached," not just the final decision. Viewed in context with the e-mail issues of the Austin City Council, the same principles about the public's right to open government apply. These bedrock principles of democracy are violated regardless of whether public officials are secretly conducting public business face-to-face or by secret e-mails through Facebook.
No elected official should even try to defend such anti-democracy tactics regardless of how clever the tactic is technologically or where the tactic is deployed, at any level of the government. But the public, and especially the press, must remain vigilant about public officials who do not really take open government to heart and instead seek to destroy it outright or incrementally, an inch, or an e-mail, at a time.