If you want to know more about the six finalists for city council position no. 9 (their names, for the record, are Dolores Sibonga, Sally Clark, Sharon Maeda, Venus Velazquez, Ven Knox, and Stella Chao), you could go to the council's website—www.seattle.gov/council—and look at their resumés. Or you could go to www.seattlechannel.org and watch council members interview the candidates. If you want to offer feedback, you can e-mail council members, whose addresses are also available on the city's website.

What you can't do is watch the council deliberate about the candidates' qualifications: Those discussions will take place in closed meetings, known as executive sessions, that will continue throughout the week, right up until the council's vote on Friday. Council members' one-on-one interviews with candidates will also be private, meaning that the public will not have a single in-person opportunity to weigh in on this extremely important decision.

On Monday, Peter Steinbrueck proposed holding a hearing to give the public a chance to weigh in before the council votes, but was shot down by a fusillade of dismissal from his colleagues. David Della's irksome question was typical: "Why can't we get information without having to go through a large public hearing?"

Steinbrueck, perhaps sensing defeat was imminent, implored his colleagues to "think about the importance of this decision... This would say to the public, 'We care what you think about these individuals because they will be representing you and casting votes in your interest.'"

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The council's closed-door meetings send exactly the opposite message.

True, the executive session and closed-door interviews are legal under state law. But just because the council can talk about candidates in closed sessions, that doesn't mean they should. From start to finish, the process of choosing a new council member will take less than three weeks. A decision as important as this one should involve more than token public input.