Friday, September 2, 2016

Mockingbird Valley cannot conduct its city meetings in the mayor's home

Mockingbird Valley violated the Open Meetings Act when city officials held public meetings at the mayor’s home and in her driveway.

On Aug. 25, 2016, Attorney General Andy Beshear issued an opinion, In re: R. Keith Cullinan/City of Mockingbird Valley, 16-OMD-178.

Cullinan sent a letter to the mayor and city council on July 20, stating he believed that meetings held at the mayor’s home and in her driveway violated the Open Meetings Act, suggesting other possible sites to meet the act’s requirement.

The Jefferson County city responded the city commission would be asked to consider his request at the next meeting. Cullinan appealed to the Attorney General's Office on July 29, stating the response did not meet the requirements of the act and it did not address a remedy for the violations.

In a response, the city acknowledged having meetings at the mayor’s house and in chairs around the front porch of her home.

KRS 61.820(1) requires that all public agency meetings be held at places which are convenient to the public, with various requirements set forth for consideration of the place chosen.

Beshear cited 13-OMD-186, which held that a city violated the Act when meetings were at the home of the mayor. He found that the mayor’s home is not convenient to the public, as required by statute, and that the city violated the act.

The city argued that because there were no other locations within the city’s boundaries, it was appropriate to use a personal residence, citing a previous attorney general opinion that held meetings much be within their jurisdiction.

The Attorney General's Office responded that the cited opinion was subsequently overruled by the Kenton Circuit Court, that meetings could take place outside jurisdiction depending on the necessity of the situation.

Beshear therefore rejected that argument from the city, stating that it may move meetings outside of the jurisdiction to a place near that would be convenient to the public.

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