In Jan. 13 Issue
We were somewhat disappointed the first official Russell County Fiscal Court session of 2011 was held behind closed doors longer than it was open to the public.
The fiscal court’s secret session had people waiting for some hour and a half while the board reportedly discussed personnel problems and possible litigation. The reasons announced for the closed session were lawful reasons, if they were applied property.
Personnel matters to be discussed in closed session are only within the law when used to protect the reputation of the person being discussed. Attorney General Opinions specifically state secret sessions cannot be used for a general personnel discussion.
Of more concern about this particular secret session was the calling for such under the reasoning of “possible litigation”.
Possible litigation with whom and for what?
Attorney General Opinions specifically point out this cannot be construed to apply anytime public agency has its attorney present
or when possibility of litigation is still remote, or where matters to be discussed are merely tangential to topic of pending litigation.
While it has not been discussed in open session, there has been some public discussion among residents there may be a rather serious problem at the new jail. If this was the reason for the secret session, the magistrates should consider they represent the taxpayers, the
taxpayers own the new jail and problems should be discussed and not apparently kept behind closed doors.
One source has stated to us there is an air circulation problem within the new detention center, (jail) and the new facility will not pass
inspection. If true, this could be a costly situation and would appear to us to certainly delay the opening of the center, another costly item to continue sending prisoners to another county. If the air circulatory system is not the problem then the taxpayers need to know what is the issue and why is possible litigation already hanging over the new county
facility. We hope this is not an indication of the transparency of this administration and such future meeting are limited and within the legal boundaries.