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Whispered words violate open meetings law

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    NMU         KENTUCKY         Freedom of Information         Jun 25, 2001    

Whispered words violate open meetings law

  • Inaudible exchanges between magistrates concerning a budget proposal constitute a violation of the state’s open meetings law, according to an opinion by the state attorney general.

Public employees cannot whisper public business to each other during a public meeting after a Kentucky attorney general’s opinion issued on June 14.

Attorney General Albert B. Chandler did not agree with members of the Taylor County Fiscal Court, the governing body of Taylor County, who thought that they were allowed under the state open meetings law to whisper to each other about the terms of a budget proposal. The members of the court said that because the whispers occurred between two people and were brief they did not violate state law.

Chandler determined that it is not the number of persons whispering or how long the whispers go on, but the content of the whispers that determines if they violate state law. Under Kentucky law, meetings must be open if the “public business” is discussed. Chandler reasoned that discussions of personal matters could be whispered to each other, but discussions about budgets, like those that occurred between the members of the Fiscal Court, are clearly against the tenets of the Kentucky open meetings laws.

In Kentucky, an opinion by the attorney general on open meetings disputes has the force of law.

(Opinion 01-OMD-110) CC

© 2001 The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press

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