City Commission Open Meetings Violations

Editorial

By Jon A. Brake

The Manhattan Free Press has evidence that the City of Manhattan continues to conduct meetings by e-mail.

In a 1998 Attorney General's Opinion it was stated that e-mails between a majority of a commission (in this case three) is considered as "serial meetings".

The Free Press and the Manhattan Mercury both requested in 2001 that the City stop e-mailing Commissioners or send a copy to the newspapers.

In a June 11, 2001 letter to the Free Press and the Mercury City Manager Ron Fehr wrote:

"Apparently, Mr. Brake believes that the Attorney Generalís opinion from 1998, regarding KOMA and involving what she described as "serial meetings", has some bearing on his request. As I indicated above, KOMA has very little to do with a records request, and I do not believe the Attorney Generalís opinion suggests anything that relates to the "openness" of records. Even if the Attorney Generalís opinion is taken as correct, there is nothing about my sending e-mail to three (3) or more Commissioners which constitutes a "meeting" under KOMA. Even the Attorney Generalís opinion requires more than my one-way communication to the Commissioners to create a meeting. Therefore, Mr. Brakeís reliance upon the Attorney Generalís opinion and KOMA to suggest the "openness" of my e-mails is misplaced."

The Free Press has evidence that shows communication between the commission and City Manager going both ways.

Riley County Attorney Bill Kennedy told the Free Press Wednesday that "I want to study the Open Meeting Act."

Neither Kennedy nor the Attorney General's Office would investigate in 2001.

It is time for the City Commission to stop going around the Kansas Open Meetings Act and the Kansas Open Records Act.

If they do not the citizens should demand a new Commission and a new City Staff.