Democratic government isn’t designed to operate by invitation only. Yet, Ketchum Mayor Neil Bradshaw and city administrators seem to like the model.

The first was Bradshaw’s move to dissolve Ketchum’s fire department and contract for fire services with the city of Sun Valley after meetings with “stakeholders” that were not allowed to question the idea until a City Council vote was imminent.

The second was the Bradshaw administration’s decision to kick the Ketchum Farmers’ Market out of downtown, complete with a new rule banning anything but free performances in Town Square in July and August. The city announced both as done deals last week, yet the City Council never considered either matter in public.

The decisions were made after consultation with unnamed “stakeholders,” in private meetings kept secret from the public. If the mayor consulted the City Council, it wasn’t in public.

The public will never know who the “stakeholders” were that wanted the market out of downtown.

The public will never know the pros and cons of moving it, including flying in the face of some economic experts who say that open-air markets bring benefits to adjacent businesses.

Citizens were not allowed to hear debates or to comment in public hearings. They will never know why alternative downtown locations were rejected.

Democracy is messy. Government by invitation only is the cold opposite.

Ketchum is beginning new “stakeholders” meetings on the future of its fire services. The City Council should kick open City Hall’s closed doors, demand that all such meetings be conducted in public and stop the mayor from end-running its legislative authority.

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