Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Online paper highlights procedural open-meetings violation but forgoes complaint

An online newspaper based in Louisa prominently noted the Lawrence County Fiscal Court's violation of the state Open Meetings Act in a story this week, but said in the article that the paper would "not file a complaint because the mistake was obviously not intentional." The first paragraph of Roberta Blevins' story in The Levisa Lazer said the new set of magistrates held their first meeting and handled routine transition business. The next three paragraphs read:
The special meeting was not advertised nor was the press sent an agenda or notice of the meeting, said Michelle Miller, who is remaining as secretary in the judge’s office under new Judge/Executive John Osborne. She said she understands this is a violation of the Kentucky Open Meetings Law.

Ms. Miller said the special meeting was announced at the swearing in ceremony last week, but formal notification was not made. The courthouse was closed Thursday and Friday of last week because, Ms. Miller said, state computers are shut down during those days and business cannot be done which comes from the state. This could be the reason notice was not officially given for the organizational get together, she said.

The Lazer management has decided to not file a complaint because the mistake was obviously not intentional.
A "complaint" could take the nature of an appeal to state Attorney General Jack Conway, who could rule that actions taken at the meeting were null and void because the meeting was not legal. The open-meetings violation was not mentioned in the story's headline, which reported that the court named a former magistrate as road foreman.
The story ended with another meetings issue, noting that "Several citizens have complained that the meetings are not held at a time when they can attend." The court meets at 10 a.m. twice a month. "Osborne has said he will look into changing the meeting time if enough people request a move to an evening hour so that working men and women can attend if they so choose," Blevins writes. (Read more)

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