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Many City Boards Rarely Enter Executive Session, Editors Report

By Jack Gurner

WATER VALLEY – The Water Valley Board of Aldermen met for three hours on Tuesday, June 3. The portion of the meeting open to the public lasted 68 minutes. The closed executive session lasted for an hour and 45 minutes.

This has been the pattern over past months when the board has closed their meetings to the public for an hour or two during each session.

The Herald contacted newspapers in towns similar to Water Valley and asked how this compared to their city board meetings.

In neighboring Bruce, the city board virtually never goes into executive session, according to Joel McNeece of the Calhoun County Journal.

Julian Toney, editor of The Belzoni Banner, said that he has only attended a few Belzoni city board meetings because they coincide with his press time. “This sounds typical of small town meetings,” Toney commented on the long closed sessions. “It’s a wonderful way to thin a curious crowd.”

The Wiggins city board meetings usually last for two to three hours, said Heather Freret, Publisher of the Stone County Enterprise. “However, they rarely go into executive session,” she added.

“Our city board works great,” said Betty Little, publisher of the Spirit of Morton. “Our mayor believes in starting on time, doing business by the agenda, and adjourning. A long board meeting is 40 minutes.”

The Morton city board holds very few executive sessions, she said and added that they are normally short, 10 to 20 minutes tops.

“Our mayor is very organized and doesn’t believe in wasting time,” Little explained. “He, or rather the city clerk, sends out a packet prior to the board meetings containing copies of the agenda and any business that is to be taken care of.”

“The prior administration was very different,” Little added. “They never met for less than two hours and chased rabbits. They would stay in executive session pretty often for 20 minutes to an hour. I guess a lot of it is all in organization of the mayor.”

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