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Council should not seek AG opinion on NDO

2014-08-10T00:00:00Z 2014-08-10T16:07:07Z Council should not seek AG opinion on NDO The Billings Gazette
August 10, 2014 12:00 am

I am proud that the City Council has developed a nondiscrimination ordinance and spent hours listening to input. I want to see the council take responsibility for making a decision that is properly noticed and gives opportunity for public participation. The prior council initiative violated Montana open meeting laws and to my knowledge, the council has not set aside that vote.

My personal bias is that the council heed that advice the city attorney and the city manager and not refer to NDO to the attorney general. Each council member is paid with local taxpayer dollars to make decisions. They cannot make a decision that will please us all. Referring the decision the attorney general or to the ballot box demonstrates an unwillingness to be responsible for the decisions they were elected and are paid to make.

The city manager told the council “An attorney general’s opinion has binding state authority.” An AG opinion would impact NDO ordinances which passed with unanimous or near unanimous votes in Missoula, Bozeman, Helena and Butte/Silverbow. A decision may impact ordinances in those cities and hurt the ability of Billings to work cooperatively with other municipalities in the upcoming legislature.

I support the NDO because I believe that it demonstrates that Billings is a community committed to inclusiveness and fairness for all which is a factor in attracting high paying jobs.

Please make a decision but make it in the bounds of Montana open meeting laws.

Pam Ellis


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