Monday, February 7, 2011

AG: Knott Co. Fiscal Court meeting conducted over the phone violated Open Meetings Act

Attorney General Jack Conway has ruled that the Knott County Fiscal Court violated the state Open Meetings Act by conducting a meeting of the court over the telephone and by failing to respond to a written complaint alleging that they violated the open meetings law.

Emma Lois Pigman complained that the meeting held on Dec. 22, 2010, excluded the public. She also complained that the fiscal court had not properly announced the meeting, in violation of the law.

The fiscal court conceded that the telephone meeting was improper, and promised to try to not do it again. County Judge-Executive Randy Thompson said in correspondence to the attorney general's office that he didn't know he had to respond to open-meetings complaints within three days. The attorney general's ruling is unequivocal: Knott County Fiscal Court "must immediately discontinue this practice."

The fiscal court disagreed with Pigman's allegation that it had not properly announced the meeting, but provided no evidence. As the AG;s office pointed out, "We can conceive of few allegations that can more easily be refuted than improper notice.  The fiscal court need only provide this office with a copy of the written notice." The ruling wraps up the Knott County situation: "Judge Thompson’s lack of familiarity with his duties under the Open Meetings Act did not excuse his failure to respond to Ms. Pigman’s complaints.  This is particularly true in light of the fact that he has held the office of county judge since October 2005."

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