Attorney General determines Carrollton City Council violated Open Meetings Act

By Ryne Turke on August 22, 2016 at 7:10am

The Attorney General’s Office has determined Carrollton City Council violated the Open Meetings Act.

The issue centers around the council’s refusal to allow anyone other than city residents to speak at meetings.

Mayor Pro-tem Joe Harness was asked for a written explanation for the council’s action after a Request for Review was submitted to the Attorney General’s Office, following the October 13th meeting of 2015.

The Greene Prairie Press reports that Harness responded to the allegations on November 9th, stating he had limited public comment to “subjects on the agenda” and prohibited non-residents from speaking “since these have been the people most disruptive in conducting a meeting for the past four months.”

According to Public Act 96-1473 of the Open Meetings Act, “any person shall be permitted an opportunity to address public officials under the rules established and recorded by the public body.”

The Greene County paper says that Harness imposed those restrictions in his letter to the Public Access Bureau. Harness wrote “we must post the agenda 48 hours in advance and once inside the 48 hours the agenda is cast in stone for the council.”

The OMA doesn’t prohibit discussion of items not on the agenda by the public body or members of the public from commenting during the public comment portion.

The Attorney General’s Office concluded that “the council violated Section 206g of the OMA during its Oct. 13 meeting by extemporaneously imposing those restrictions.”

Calls on Friday to Mayor Pro-tem Harness were not returned.