Friday, March 30, 2012

Conway says AD district board violated meetings law in dispute between Lewis County officials

Attorney General Jack Conway has ruled the Buffalo Trace Area Development District board violated the state Open Meetings Act in using anonymous paper ballots to elect a citizen member to the board form Lewis County on Feb. 21, Marla Toncray reports for the Ledger Independent of Maysville.

The issue was raised by Lewis County Judge-Executive Thomas Massie, who is running for the Republican nomination for Congress in the 4th District.

Massie filed a complaint with board Chairman Bill Boggs Feb. 28, alleging that Vanceburg Mayor Todd Ruckel and other board members "conducted private conversations with board members in advance of the Feb. 21 meeting to secure the election of the mayor's nominee and defeat the election of the judge's nominee," Toncray reports. Conway did not reach a conclusion on that point, citing "the conflicting evidentiary record."

Massie wrote, "No notice of appointment of a board member was placed on the agenda for the Feb. 21 meeting, yet some members carried proxy votes for absentee members to the meeting." He also "alleged that the board improperly conducted the election by paper ballot rather than by roll call vote, that the paper ballots were reviewed by only three members of the board, and that the vote count was not announced," the decision says.

Boggs said the vote was conducted by paper ballot after a motion for a roll call vote failed for lack of a second. He said the district's bylaws "do not prescribe the means of conducting the election." But Conway's decision noted that the open-meetings law and past decisions require "a public vote of the members in attendance and a record of how each member voted."

Toncray reports, "Massie said Thursday BTADD board members were trying to avoid transparency and then followed the statement by asking how much public business is being conducted in secret at BTADD meetings." Massie told her, "Back room dealings were going on. Our citizens deserve full transparency and protection from these kinds of acts. That's why I filed the complaint." (Read more)

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