Thursday, October 13, 2011

Parks board defends meeting behind closed doors

The Winchester Sun has asked Attorney General Jack Conway to review an executive session the Winchester-Clark County Parks and Recreation Board held before deciding to allow alcohol sales in Lykins Park for a concert.

In a letter responding to the Sun's challenge, the parks board said it had received several specific legal threats about allowing alcohol sales in Lykins Park. Under the Kentucky Open Meetings Act, public bodies, including the parks board, are required to conduct all of their business in an open session except when certain issues arise. Threatened or pending litigation is one of those exceptions in the law, and that justified a closed discussion of the matter during a meeting, according to a letter sent to the Kentucky Attorney General’s office by Clark County Attorney Brian Thomas.

The parks board voted 4-2 to allow the Winchester Fraternal Order of Police to sell beer during the John Michael Montgomery Country-Fest, despite an existing policy that prohibits alcohol in public parks in Clark County. The vote in public session on Sept. 12 followed the discussion in executive session.

In its Sept. 21 appeal to the attorney general, The Sun argued that the possibility of litigation was “remote” and therefore the exemption did not apply. Thomas responded for the park board that several people had threatened to sue the board if the waiver were granted.

The attorney general's office has not issued its opinion in the matter. That opinion has the force of law unless it is appealed to circuit court.

Read the Sun's story here.

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