Saturday, July 24, 2010

Tempest in an open meetings teapot

The Courier-Journal summarizes a recent opinion of the Attorney General about how a recent Jefferson County board member was chosen:
Conway said that if the three-member committee that interviewed four women for the open school board seat was created by the Kentucky Board of Education — a public agency — then the law was violated. But if it was created by Kentucky Education Commissioner Terry Holliday, it was not.
The puzzle to me has been why there's any confusion about who named the committee.  The new article has solved that puzzle for me:
“On the KDE website, they say that the committee was created by the state board,” said Jon Fleischaker, an attorney for The Courier-Journal. “If that is the case, they violated the law by meeting in secret and for not following the process for going into closed session.”
On the one hand, state law has said for twenty years that the Commissioner appoints replacements to local boards, and state practice for just about that long has been that the Commissioner asks a small group for advice on that choice.  A review of KBE minutes will show no action taken to appoint the group in question,  and a review of KBE videotape will show no discussion of doing so--and both are easily available on line.  

On the other hand, the C-J can hardly be faulted for thinking the KDE website was a trustworthy source on KDE policy and practice.

It sure sounds like the website carried a small but serious inaccuracy.  Now the puzzle is why a small but serious correction attached to a small but serious apology wasn't an adequate solution for all concerned.

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