What is it?
Protecting our right to know is integral to the health of our democracy. Decisions that determine how our schools will be run, at what level community safety programs will be funded, and how land in our towns will be used impact our lives and are vital to our well-being. These kinds of decisions need to be made with public input and oversight. One important way to ensure that is to observe government meetings.
The League has been a champion of government transparency since our founding in 1920. It is one of our core principles and a vital part of our mission. Our efforts in this area reinforce our reputation of fairness, nonpartisanship
and trust. League members attend governmental meetings to learn what their government is doing and to monitor whether those meetings are conducted in an open and transparent way. Experience has shown the importance of the League being present to watch—and to take action when necessary.
—from the LWV document, Observing Your Government in Action
How does it Work?
Why does The League have an Observer Corps?
- To watch government in action
- To let public bodies/agencies know that citizens are interested
- To keep the League up-to-date with government
- To uphold the public’s right to be present at meetings of public bodies/agencies
- To learn about local government from the source
- To establish good public relations for the League
- To alert the League to possibilities for action on positions
- To become aware of emerging issues for program planning
- To be informed, enlightened and fascinated
What does the Observer do?
- Regularly attends (or watches on Public Access) meetings of any selected public body (some common examples are: City Councils, County Supervisors, School Boards)- see below
- Acquires a background about the function, powers, and operations of that agency
- Figures out where to find relevant documents in addition to agendas and minutes such as plans, ordinances, maps, references, etc.
- Become familiar with League program positions
- Factually reports on those selected public body meetings using an Observer report form and attaching any supporting documents
What is required of the Observer at one of these meetings?
- Introduce yourself as a League Observer to the clerk or secretary
- Wear a League button clearly identifying you as an Observer
- Express no opinion (your own or the League’s) on any matter keeping as silent as possible
- Keep an impartial and respectful attitude at all times
What happens after?
- Observer submits report to the Board
- If the report states that action is needed then it is reviewed and a draft is presented to the board for approval
- Action is taken or it is not taken
- Action can only be taken if we have a local or vertical (State and National) position
What happens to reports that do not recommend action?
- The observers can use the information to keep the League membership abreast of emerging, continuing, and current issues
- The reports can be used to continue to establish good public relations for the League
Who is involved?
A small group of members recently met to discuss how we would form an observers corps similar to what other state and local leagues do. We agreed that we would try to cover the following public meetings:
Klamath County Schools:
www.kcsd.k12.or.us/district/school-board.cfm – Can attend virtually
Board meetings are held at 3rd Thursday at 5 pm – 7 or 8 pm, depending on agenda length, at 2845 Greensprings Dr., Klamath Falls, OR
Klamath City Schools:
www.kfalls.k12.or.us/page/board-of-education – Can attend virtually –
Board meetings are held at 6:00 PM the 2nd Monday of each month (unless otherwise indicated) in the Boardroom of the Lucile O’Neill Education Center located at 1336 Avalon Street, Klamath Falls, Oregon
Klamath County Commissioners:
Weekly Business Meeting held at 8:30 a.m. every Tuesday at Government Center 305 Main Street, Room 219, Klamath Falls, Oregon
Klamath Falls City Council:
Held on the 1st and 3rd Monday of each month at 7pm, unless Monday is a legal Holiday, and then subsequently held on the following Tuesday at 7pm at City Hall Annex Building – Council Chambers, 500 Klamath Avenue, Klamath Falls, OR 97601
What Can You Do?
If you are available to go to even one of the meetings, that would be helpful. Let us know.
This is the report form we’ve adopted for anyone observing a public meeting.