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Bellendir, Boeckman dispute highlights need for third party reporting
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Monday following the Barton County Commission meeting, the below explanation was given on the dispute between Sheriff Brian Bellendir and County Attorney Richard Boeckman on the county’s Facebook page. It said:
“OTHER: Sheriff Brian Bellendir and Boeckman discussed executive session issues.”
Contrast this with the explanation that appeared in the Great Bend Tribune:
“An issue over a policy matter that erupted into a heated verbal exchange between Barton County Sheriff Brian Bellendir and County Administrator Richard Boeckman at the County Commission meeting Monday morning has been settled, both men said.
Despite the tension, the two sat down at lunch and hashed out the differences that lead to demands for an executive session by Bellendir and sharp words in response from Boeckman. The agreement rendered obsolete the call for a closed-door meeting.”
The differences in the two explanations highlight the need for third party monitoring. Subject matter aside, this type of information is important to voters of this county. This is also the reason it is critical to have an unbiased ear in the audience at meetings of city councils and school boards.
Those meetings rarely have members of the community present. And if they are present, many leave immediately after their award presentation or their topic of interest is over.
Newspapers do this type of coverage. It really isn’t a tremendous amount of fun to sit through hour-long discussions on antennae’s on the water tower.
The most serious reporting of state Legislature and governmental issues is being done by the Topeka Capital Journal, the AP, the Lawrence Journal World, and a few other major newspapers.
While most of our elected officials want what is best for the community, particularly at the local level as most are volunteers, if they completely self-report, exchanges like the one above will go uncovered.
And while they generally don’t happen often, they do happen. And in fact, the above dispute may have been resolved much more quickly since it was public. Kudos to both men for hashing out their differences.
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There is a misconception out there that news is free. No one works at the job that supports their families for free, and the so-called free news is paid for through advertising or sponsorships. Newspaper reporters are generally an independent group, and traditionally papers have separated news from advertising.
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