Select Board cited for Open Meeting Law violation

  • Worthington Town Hall FILE PHOTO

Staff Writer
Published: 8/18/2022 2:01:42 PM

WORTHINGTON — The state attorney general’s office has cited the Select Board for an Open Meeting Law violation for failing to file minutes in a timely manner for a meeting that it held on Nov. 9 of last year.

The complaint from Mark Brooks, received by the attorney general’s office on June 21, alleged that the board failed to approve the meeting minutes in a timely manner. Additionally, the complaint alleged that the board “conspired to fraudulently alter” an audio recording of the meeting by omitting 20 minutes of it.

In a letter to Margaret O’Neal, the Select Board’s executive assistant, Assistant Attorney General Carrie Benedon noted that the Select Board admitted to not creating minutes for the Nov. 9 meeting, and that O’Neal had provided Brooks with her notes on the meeting — which Brooks was also present for.

Benedon wrote that the board had violated the Open Meeting Law by not approving the minutes in a timely manner, and instructed the Select Board to create minutes and remedy this within 30 days.

Benedon also wrote that the minutes were not created because the recording secretary could not attend the meeting.

“If staff resources are not available to create minutes for a public body to approve, then public body members must take on this responsibility to ensure compliance with the Law,” Benedon wrote.

Additionally, Benedon wrote that this does not appear to have been done with an intent to conceal what happened at the meeting from the public.

As for the alleged editing of the recording, O’Neal said that doesn’t fall under the Open Meeting Law, as creating a recording of a meeting is not a requirement, and thus editing a recording is not addressed.

“There certainly was no editing done,” said Select Board member Charley Rose.

Rose said that meetings are recorded sporadically when he remembers to do it, and he forgot to record the hearing on closing roads for the winter that preceded the Select Board meeting on Nov. 9.

He also said that this was the first time in his tenure on the Select Board that the board has been cited for an Open Meeting Law violation to his recollection, and that the board will be more careful in the future.

Select Board Chair Amy Wang also said that no recording was altered.

“We’re trying to get better,” Wang said, on remembering to record meetings.

Wang also said that the Select Board is doing better at posting minutes to the town’s website, and there hasn’t been a backlog on minutes being posted for months.

Bera Dunau can be reached at bdunau@gazettenet.com.
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