CLARK CO. (ECWd) –
Less than two months after settling a civil suit for an alleged Open Meetings Act violation, and during the July 17, 2014 Clark County Park District meeting, the board took action on an item entitled: “Pursuit of Attorney“. The action they took was to hire an attorney, not to pursue one.
It was a rather disappointing meeting, I showed up expecting to see the board members chasing an attorney around the Mill Creek trail system, or at least around the parking lot, but instead there was just a vote to “HIRE an Attorney” – an agenda item that was clearly not on the agenda for discussion or action.
Adding insult to injury, I specifically asked board president Stepp if he intended to hire an attorney under that agenda item. My reason for asking was to protest prior to the meeting being re-adjourned for lack of a proper agenda item. He replied to me that they were just “going to talk about it“. Obviously since I am writing this article, that was not the case and they voted to hire an attorney.
The Open Meetings Act is a fairly simple and straight forward law, written for the average person to be able to understand its requirements. One of those requirements is to place on the agenda anything they are going to take action on, and it must reasonably inform the public of the action being contemplated. As you will read in the letter I sent to Mr. Stepp without any sort of reply or even an acknowledgment that it was received, I stated that it appears the board was trying to be secretive about hiring an attorney by not clearly stating that on the posted agenda.
When an item is voted on and action taken for an item that is not on the agenda, that action is NULL. It will have to be put on another agenda and voted on at a later meeting.
The vote was to hire a specific attorney at $250 per hour. That vote is not valid, or won’t be by the time we finish addressing it in another venue if need be.
My letter to Mr. Stepp:
The agenda item of “pursuit of attorney” was used to hire an attorney. I remember
asking if you were going to use that agenda item to hire an attorney and you told me
that you were just going to talk about it. Within a few minutes you preceded to use it to
hire an attorney.
I am asking that the issue of hiring an attorney be place on the next meeting agenda and
re-voted because “pursuit of attorney” is not the same as “hire attorney” and should not
have been used as such. Actionable agenda items need to be specific enough so that the
public knows what you are contemplating taking action on so they can make up their
minds if they want to attend that particular meeting or not.
I guess I’m having a problem trying to figure out why the agenda was misleading.
Please feel free to call me and discuss this if you would like additional information.
Thanks for your consideration,
This letter was sent on July 19, 2014 with no response. I can only guess there will continue to be no response and the board will try to say there was nothing wrong with this action.