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As others see it: Councilman stays true to his work

Vernon Brown deserves a medal and here's why: Brown is upset that the Sioux Falls City Council -- of which he is a longtime member -- has been given a reprimand by the South Dakota Open Meetings Commission.

The commission recently ruled that the council was too vague in its motion to fire former city clerk Debra Owen, who was let go by the panel in a controversial move last year.

Brown, in the council's most recent meeting, said he is pained to have this censure fall upon the board and blamed David Pfeifle, the Sioux Falls city attorney, for providing bad legal advice.

Brown did this in open session, and Pfeifle took offense, sparking a feud between the attorney, Brown and at least one other member of the panel.

It's a dramatic issue, no doubt, but we can't help but appreciate Brown's stance.

First, we remind readers of Sunshine Week, a five-day span set aside by many newspapers in America to promote government openness. Brown's timing certainly is fitting.

It seems that many boards do not take great offense when they are reprimanded by the Open Meetings Commission, a panel that hears public complaints about possible violations of procedure by elected boards.

That Brown is so offended shows he cares, and it shows that he truly wants to conduct the people's business appropriately.

We don't care that his scolding of the city attorney caused offense. If the attorney's advice was bad and caused embarrassment to the board, so be it. The attorney works for the people; so does the City Council, for that matter.

And further, Brown maintains that his role on the board does not trump his First Amendment rights to state his true feelings about this issue.

Hear, hear.

Good job, Vernon.