The City Council just sent out a press release—gleefully reported by the Seattle Times— that Mayor Greg Nickels' staff will no longer be briefing groups of city council members in closed meetings. Instead, they just won't be briefing council members at all.

The thing is, under city law, they don't have to. The meetings—which, as I pointed out earlier, are no different than dozens of meetings that happen between council members in their offices (ahem: BEHIND CLOSED DOORS!!11!11!!!) every week—gave the mayor's staffers an opportunity to brief city council members on upcoming budget cuts. City law allows the mayor to reduce the budget in the middle of a budget year without any discussion or meetings at all. (The budget cuts, contrary to what the Times's stories implied, will not be subject to a council vote). And now, thanks to the Seattle Times' attempt to create news where none exists, it looks like there won't be.

A side note: At the state legislature, members of the Republican and Democratic caucuses meet privately nearly every day to discuss legislation pending before the state house and senate. Moreover: When the majority party (the Democrats) meets in private, they constitute a quorum. Perhaps if the Seattle Times had someone in Olympia—and if its editors weren't bent on making a huge issue out of a nonstory at City Hall— they might consider looking into that.