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Keep everyone informed

February 16, 2006

Just as it appears to be producing some results, Hagerstown Councilwoman Penny Nigh has questioned the way the so-called "two-plus-two" committee functions. Nigh is asking for more public disclosure, an idea we agree with.

The committee, which includes two County Commissioners and two members of the council, was formed after meetings between the full bodies of each group produced little except lots of talk.

Once the "two-plus-two" committee agrees on something, its members then go back to their respective bodies. If they persuade one more member of each body to go along, action is taken.

So far, not a great deal has happened, although on Tuesday it was announced that, in a private meeting between Councilman Lewis Metzner, Kristin Aleshire and Commissioner James Kercheval, a deal was worked out on the city's proposed Adequate Public Facilities Ordinance, or APFO.

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The agreement would allow some city redevelopment projects to go forward, even if city schools were overcrowded.

But although the "two-plus-two" format makes it easier for members to speak frankly, it also keeps citizens out of the debate until the issue being discussed is near a settlement.

To allay Nigh's fears and to include the public, we recommend that "two-plus-two" members report to their respective bodies in public session each week on the progress made and what direction the discussions are taking. Fewer surprises might even lead to more progress.

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