Friday, November 19, 2010

Butler County Fiscal Court loses open meetings appeal

Butler Circuit Court Judge Ronnie Dortch has denied an appeal filed by the county's fiscal court on an open meetings case originally filed by local citizen activist Robert Cron.

Cron had appealed to the state attorney general over a series of private meetings between four members of the fiscal court and Sheriff Joe Gaddie last year to discuss the budget for the sheriff's department.

The attorney general's office ruled in March that the meetings violated the state's Open Meetings Act. The fiscal court appealed the ruling to the circuit court, which in a brief statement turned down the appeal. However, Dortch said he found no willful intent to violate state law by the fiscal court. That precluded any award of attorney's fees or court costs.

Cron ran an unsuccessful campaign for judge-executive in the recent election.
This is not the first time Butler County Fiscal Court has disregarded its obligation to the law and to the residents of the county by holding secret meetings. In January 2009, the attorney general held that the fiscal court's finance committee had violated the open meetings law by not giving public notice of its meetings.

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