Friday, September 8, 2017

Good guys win a round.

Some Mayors will attempt to get around the Open Meetings Act by meeting with one or two aldermen at a time.  The public never knows about it and the skullduggery takes place behind closed doors.  The board meeting comes, there is little discussion, and presto- the subject action passes.  Well, the Mississippi Supreme Court said no more.  The Mississippi Justice Institute issued this statement:

Today, the Mississippi Supreme Court ruled that the Mayor and City Council of Columbus violated the Open Meetings Act when they previously met in prearranged, non-quorum size gatherings to discuss public business, intending to circumvent the Act. This is the first time the Supreme Court has ever addressed the issue of whether meetings of public officials in less than quorum numbers violate the Open Meetings Act. The Mississippi Justice Institute represented The Commercial Dispatch in the appeal.

"This is a huge win for the citizens of Mississippi and for open and accountable government," said Mike Hurst, Director of the Mississippi Justice Institute. "People are tired of backroom deals and secret agreements by government officials that affect their lives. The Supreme Court's opinion puts public officials and bureaucrats on notice – you cannot circumvent the law and do the people's business behind closed doors anymore. Today's decision is a monumental victory for transparency in government."

In 2014, the Columbus mayor scheduled multiple meetings with council members to discuss policy issues and determine matters involving economic development projects and renovation of city property. The meetings were not announced or open to the public. At the time, the mayor excluded a Commercial Dispatch reporter from some of these meetings. In December 2014, the Mississippi Ethics Commission held that the mayor and council violated the Open Meetings Act. The mayor and city council appealed the decision to the Lowndes County Chancery Court, which upheld the Ethics Commission's decision. The mayor and city council then appealed to the Mississippi Supreme Court.

The original complaint against the Mayor and City Council was filed by Nathan Gregory, who at the time was a reporter for The Commercial Dispatch, a Columbus newspaper. The Commercial Dispatch eventually replaced Gregory as a party in the case. The Mississippi Justice Institute represented The Commercial Dispatch in the appeal.
The Mississippi Supreme Court ruled, "The four pairs of subquorum gatherings, along with the fact that they were prearranged, nonsocial, and on the topic of public business, illustrated the City's intent to circumvent or avoid the requirements of the Act. The philosophy and spirit of the Act prohibit the City from intending and attempting to circumvent or avoid the requirements of the Act. Additionally, the plain language of Section 25-41-1 requires the subject gatherings to be open to the public. Thus, the City's failure to hold open gatherings violated the Act."
[The Ruling]

In concluding, the Supreme Court noted that, "Prearranged, nonsocial gatherings on public business that are held in subquorum groups with the intent to circumvent the Act are required to be open to the public under Section 25-41-1 of the Open Meetings Act. Thus, the trial court correctly found that the City violated the Open Meetings Act."

Peter Imes, General Manager of The Commercial Dispatch said, "The public should have access to its government's decision-making process, and this ruling upholds that idea. It's a win for open government."

Hurst concluded, "Whether raising taxes, spending taxpayer money or issuing regulations that affect people's lives and property, people want to know what their government is doing. This decision clearly tells government officials to follow the law and do public business in the open."

The Mississippi Justice Institute is also representing a local Meridian man against the Lauderdale County Board of Supervisors who have committed the same violations of the Open Meetings Act as found illegal in the present case by the Supreme Court. See http://www.msjustice.org/case/lauderdale-open-meetings-act/ 

The Mississippi Justice Institute was assisted in this appeal by Clay B. Baldwin, Esq. of the Baldwin Law Firm PLLC in Madison, Miss.

The Mississippi Justice Institute is the legal arm of the Mississippi Center for Public Policy. It represents Mississippians whose state or federal Constitutional rights have been threatened by government actions. Mississippi Justice Institute is supported by voluntary, tax-deductible contributions. It receives no funds from government agencies for its operations. To learn more about MJI, visit www.msjustice.org.

Kingfish note: Someone show this opinion to a certain Mayor of a town where Highway 16 meets Highway 43.  He is rather known for using this tactic on a regular basis.



12 comments:

Anonymous said...

Excellent news! But I'm sure some of the dunderheads elected to office will hold back room card games instead. However, this is a great win for the taxpayers of this state. Transparency. One lawsuit at a time. <3 Sippi.

Anonymous said...

Won't stop Lumumba's collusion with Stokes to push whitey out of, and reduce whitey financial influence in, Jackson.

Anonymous said...

8:36- are you another White Supermacist!!

Anonymous said...

The behavior will not change.

Anonymous said...

I think 8:36 is an intelligent person who actually listens and watches what elected officials do. Somehow 9:10 thinks listening and watching is racist. More people should try that novel idea.

Anonymous said...

At the Brandon town hall meeting last night, the mayor (while defending decisions that were probably made in violation of the Open Meetings Act) referenced the increase in Brandon's population and said with great bewilderment, "I don't know where all these people are coming from."

Anonymous said...

I'm curious as to what the consequences will be if Columbus (or any other town) continues this practice. The ruling is great, but does it have teeth?

Anonymous said...

Unless there is significant punitive action taken against the offending mayor, council or Board of Supervisors, this will continue.

Part of the unwashed said...

Does this mean they are going to have to discuss contracts to cronies in an open meeting instead of getting it agreed on privately? And when the item is called up on the meeting agenda it is quickly voted with no discussion? What's the purpose of running for office if yhou can't help your friends? And has anybody thought about how much time this is going to add to the meetings?

Anonymous said...

Flowood is just as bad

Anonymous said...

"Unless there is significant punitive action taken against the offending mayor, council or Board of Supervisors, this will continue." - Agreed...and Mike Hurst might be the man to make that happen.....Chad Lamar we have yet to see. Is he beholden to the corrupted Oxford plantation? Time will tell.

Anonymous said...

Let Madison, The City and Madison County be test cases.

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Trollfest '09

Trollfest '07 was such a success that Jackson Jambalaya will once again host Trollfest '09. Catch this great event which will leave NE Jackson & Fondren in flames. Othor Cain and his band, The Black Power Structure headline the night while Sonjay Poontang returns for an encore performance. Former Frank Melton bodyguard Marcus Wright makes his premier appearance at Trollfest singing "I'm a Sweet Transvestite" from "The Rocky Horror Picture Show." Kamikaze will sing his new hit, “How I sold out to da Man.” Robbie Bell again performs: “Mamas, don't let your babies grow up to be Bells” and “Any friend of Ed Peters is a friend of mine”. After the show, Ms. Bell will autograph copies of her mug shot photos. In a salute to “Dancing with the Stars”, Ms. Bell and Hinds County District Attorney Robert Smith will dance the Wango Tango.

Wrestling returns, except this time it will be a Battle Royal with Othor Cain, Ben Allen, Kim Wade, Haley Fisackerly, Alan Lange, and “Big Cat” Donna Ladd all in the ring at the same time. The Battle Royal will be in a steel cage, no time limit, no referee, and the losers must leave town. Marshand Crisler will be the honorary referee (as it gives him a title without actually having to do anything).


Meet KIM Waaaaaade at the Entergy Tent. For five pesos, Kim will sell you a chance to win a deed to a crack house on Ridgeway Street stuffed in the Howard Industries pinata. Don't worry if the pinata is beaten to shreds, as Mr. Wade has Jose, Emmanuel, and Carlos, all illegal immigrants, available as replacements for the it. Upon leaving the Entergy tent, fig leaves will be available in case Entergy literally takes everything you have as part of its Trollfest ticket price adjustment charge.

Donna Ladd of The Jackson Free Press will give several classes on learning how to write. Smearing, writing without factchecking, and reporting only one side of a story will be covered. A donation to pay their taxes will be accepted and she will be signing copies of their former federal tax liens. Ms. Ladd will give a dramatic reading of her two award-winning essays (They received The Jackson Free Press "Best Of" awards.) "Why everything is always about me" and "Why I cover murders better than anyone else in Jackson".

In the spirit of helping those who are less fortunate, Trollfest '09 adopts a cause for which a portion of the proceeds and donations will be donated: Keeping Frank Melton in his home. The “Keep Frank Melton From Being Homeless” booth will sell chances for five dollars to pin the tail on the jackass. John Reeves has graciously volunteered to be the jackass for this honorable excursion into saving Frank's ass. What's an ass between two friends after all? If Mr. Reeves is unable to um, perform, Speaker Billy McCoy has also volunteered as when the word “jackass” was mentioned he immediately ran as fast as he could to sign up.


In order to help clean up the legal profession, Adam Kilgore of the Mississippi Bar will be giving away free, round-trip plane tickets to the North Pole where they keep their bar complaint forms (which are NOT available online). If you don't want to go to the North Pole, you can enjoy Brant Brantley's (of the Mississippi Commission on Judicial Performance) free guided tours of the quicksand field over by High Street where all complaints against judges disappear. If for some reason you are unable to control yourself, never fear; Judge Houston Patton will operate his jail where no lawyers are needed or allowed as you just sit there for minutes... hours.... months...years until he decides he is tired of you sitting in his jail. Do not think Judge Patton is a bad judge however as he plans to serve free Mad Dog 20/20 to all inmates.

Trollfest '09 is a pet-friendly event as well. Feel free to bring your dog with you and do not worry if your pet gets hungry, as employees of the Jackson Zoo will be on hand to provide some of their animals as food when it gets to be feeding time for your little loved one.

Relax at the Fox News Tent. Since there are only three blonde reporters in Jackson (being blonde is a requirement for working at Fox News), Megan and Kathryn from WAPT and Wendy from WLBT will be on loan to Fox. To gain admittance to the VIP section, bring either your Republican Party ID card or a Rebel Flag. Bringing both and a torn-up Obama yard sign will entitle you to free drinks served by Megan, Wendy, and Kathryn. Get your tickets now. Since this is an event for trolls, no ID is required. Just bring the hate. Bring the family, Trollfest '09 is for EVERYONE!!!

This is definitely a Beaver production.


Note: Security provided by INS.

Trollfest '07

Jackson Jambalaya is the home of Trollfest '07. Catch this great event which promises to leave NE Jackson & Fondren in flames. Sonjay Poontang and his band headline the night with a special steel cage, no time limit "loser must leave town" bout between Alan Lange and "Big Cat"Donna Ladd following afterwards. Kamikaze will perform his new song F*** Bush, he's still a _____. Did I mention there was no referee? Dr. Heddy Matthias and Lori Gregory will face off in the undercard dueling with dangling participles and other um, devices. Robbie Bell will perform Her two latest songs: My Best Friends are in the Media and Mama's, Don't Let Your Babies Grow up to be George Bell. Sid Salter of The Clarion-Ledger will host "Pin the Tail on the Trial Lawyer", sponsored by State Farm.

There will be a hugging booth where in exchange for your young son, Frank Melton will give you a loooong hug. Trollfest will have a dunking booth where Muhammed the terrorist will curse you to Allah as you try to hit a target that will drop him into a vat of pig grease. However, in the true spirit of Separate But Equal, Don Imus and someone from NE Jackson will also sit in the dunking booth for an equal amount of time. Tom Head will give a reading for two hours on why he can't figure out who the hell he is. Cliff Cargill will give lessons with his .80 caliber desert eagle, using Frank Melton photos as targets. Tackleberry will be on hand for an autograph session. KIM Waaaaaade will be passing out free titles and deeds to crackhouses formerly owned by The Wood Street Players.

If you get tired come relax at the Fox News Tent. To gain admittance to the VIP section, bring either your Republican Party ID card or a Rebel Flag. Bringing both will entitle you to free drinks.Get your tickets now. Since this is an event for trolls, no ID is required, just bring the hate. Bring the family, Trollfest '07 is for EVERYONE!!!

This is definitely a Beaver production.

Note: Security provided by INS
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