Sides will take part in open meetings talks

Published 12:00 am Saturday, March 9, 2013

SALISBURY — Less than two months after holding a controversial closed meeting with the school board head, Rowan County commissioner chairman Jim Sides will speak on government transparency at a Sunshine Week event Monday.
Sides will join other speakers on North Carolina State University’s campus Monday afternoon for a 10-minute discussion on “sunshine initiatives.”
Sides said he was initially approached about a similar open government event last year in Charlotte, but the discussion was canceled. He was contacted later about the Raleigh panel.
“I always believe the county should be open and transparent even in their meetings,” Sides said. “Even though I’ve been accused of that not being the case.”
In January, Sides held a closed meeting with Rowan-Salisbury School Board chairman Richard Miller.
Like in January, Sides maintains that he violated no open meetings laws by discussing the county’s choices with a school board official outside of a board meeting.
“We still follow the law,” he said. “I believed in being open and transparent when I came on the board in 2004.”
Sides said he was approached for the gig because of the strides he’s made in making public records available on the county’s website.
Several years ago, he said, the county was rated poorly by the John Locke Foundation’s open government website. Since then, he’s worked to boost the rating.
“I was proud of the fact that we got an A+ rating on that website,” he said. “Nobody else in the state has it.”