CHESTERFIELD, Mo. (KMOX) Are they playing politics or providing transparency for taxpayers? When it comes to the ongoing open contract talks in the Monarch Fire Protection District, it depends who you ask.

International Association of Fire Fighters Local 2665 Shop Steward Chris Gelven says the board’s decision to hold the talks in open meetings is purely political.

Gelven says he has no problem allowing taxpayers the ability to see what is happening but negotiations often involve details which cannot legally be discussed in public.

“HIPAA information; some information about employees. That’s why we felt like it should be closed. Our attorney felt like the meeting should be closed,” he said.

Monarch Fire Board Director Jane Cunningham says that has not and will not happen.

“We agreed with them: if you have something personal to share with us, like someone’s personal health information, we’ll close the meeting and you can tell us,” she explained.

The talks have been going on since October. The current contract expires New Year’s Eve but its provisions remain in effect until the contract is replaced.

“This is just a big dog and pony show for them, for some of their supporters,” Gelven added.

Monarch firefighters and the board that governs them have often been at odds over the past year, disagreeing on issues ranging from terminations to shirt colors. Earlier this month, firefighters questioned the board’s decision to fire a public education officer before acquiring a $5 million insurance policy for each board member.

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