University of Montana meetings, higher education public access, under scrutiny | Local

If you’re curious about what the Missoula City Council is up to, hop online.

You’ll find agendas, along with budgets and reports, posted some 48 hours before meetings. You can go to the meetings and speak your mind.

Likewise, with the Board of County Commissioners. Missoula County more recently launched a public portal, and it’s adding agendas, minutes and other documents. As with the city, meetings are public.

If you’re interested in another public institution, the University of Montana, you might have a harder time getting involved.

Now, a local government activist wants that to change, not only at UM but across the Montana University System campuses.

Ross Best, a local and state watchdog and part-time UM student who has pushed other government reforms, is asking the university system to get serious about public participation and adopt a formal policy.

“I think the failures in the university system to provide openness and public participation are one of the most serious failures of government in the history of the state,” Best said.

Among the things he thinks the public should know, or be able to find out:

How did the cabinet consider recent cuts at UM?

Where are the budget planning documents?

What’s the best way to comment?

At least at the Missoula flagship campus, though, change is afoot.

In December, after six years of declining enrollment and…

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