September 9, 1999

By Jon A. Brake

In an editorial Sunday, the Manhattan Mercury said: "This has become an
angry, divided town. Over Wal-Mart, over evolution and particularly over
the Ten Commandments. And we ought to do something about it before the harm
already caused becomes permanent."
We agree..
Here are two of the many reasons this town is divided:
1. The Ten Commandments problem started when the City Commission voted 3-2
to keep the monolith at City Hall. The Manhattan Mercury wrote a story
about the vote and then called the ACLU and asked if they would file a
lawsuit. The ACLU said "no", not unless local citizens wanted a suit. Seven
citizens took up the offer.
2. Until two years ago Manhattan City business was conducted in the open.
Commissioners could not call or get together to discuss City business,
outside the open meetings, without breaking the Kansas Open Meetings Act.
Two years ago the Commission changed the number required for a quorum from
three to four. This gave the Commissioners the legal right to conduct City
business in private, behind closed doors.
All City business is now conducted on the phone, by e-mail or in back
rooms. The Commission is not trusted because they are doing wrong.
Yes, this town is divided, but it is not the outraged citizens who are to