Thursday, August 16, 2012

Hustonville officials refuse to release text of proposed ordinances after first reading

Here's one we've never heard before: A city refusing to provide the text of proposed ordinances on which its city council has held first reading. It is happening in Hustonville, the small Lincoln County town on US 127 between Danville and Liberty, reports Ben Kleppinger of The Interior Journal of the county seat of Stanford:

"Hustonville City Council has passed first readings of five ordinances aimed at curtailing certain behaviors within city limits, but the city has refused to release the text of the ordinances to the public. The ordinances were read aloud by Mayor Marc Spivey at the city's Aug. 7 regularly scheduled meeting. City Attorney Carol Hill refused to give the weekly newspaper copies of the ordinances, claiming they are "preliminary documents," and City Clerk Rita Clem denied a written open-records request, saying "The Open Records Act only governs access to the existing records and not to records that will be created in the future."

Kleppinger reports, "Kentucky Press Association Attorney Jeremy Rogers, who specializes in open meetings and open records law, said there's no question ordinances that pass first reading are open record. Rogers said Hustonville's argument that the ordinances do not exist doesn't make any sense because they have all already received first readings. . . . There's nothing preliminary or private or secret about it. They've read it in an open meeting."

The newspaper is appealing denial of its open-records request to Attorney General Jack Conway. The ordinances deal with littering, illegal parking, jaywalking, wearing of masks and one that would ban "formation of any type of line and/or congregating on the sidewalks, streets or any other public property." (Read more)

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