A complaint filed with the Johnson County District Attorneys office regarding possible violations of the Kansas Open Meetings Act have been assigned for investigation, according to Dana E. Gouge, chief investigator.
The complaint, filed by The Gardner News, concerns two meetings:
The KOMA complaint concerned circumstances surrounding Resolution 1963 presented and approved March, 6, 2017. Council members came out of closed session with a change to personnel regulations already prepared and approved it, with no prior public discussion.
A review of e mail obtained under KORA indicated Steve Shute, council president, prepared Resolution 1963 prior to the meeting, and he writes Chris Morrow, mayor, that he has it ready for discussion during closed session. He also asks Morrow to verify that a public statement regarding a possible change need NOT be made before entering closed session. In email, Morrow warns that he does not believe the issue can be discussed in closed session.
From questions asked by staff after the resolution’s passage, it does not appear staff had knowledge of the resolution, although usually such policy change is drafted by staff. There was no reason provided as to why Shute drafted the proposal or why it could not be added to an upcoming agenda for public review.
A formal complaint sent to Gardner officials went unanswered, although Shute did read into the public record at a later meeting that there were no improprieties surrounding Resolution 1963.
June 8 meeting
Under the KOMA, notice of special meetings must be provided to anyone who submits a request. Annually, The Gardner News makes a written request to be notified of any meetings.
However, notice was not provided regarding a June 8 meeting of three city councilmen, Rich Melton, Lee Moore and Shute, who met with two council candidates without proper notification of a possible quorum. The was published on Councilman Melton’s Facebook page and demonstrates the meeting occurred.
A request for the agenda or minutes of the meeting indicated no such records exist, according to the city clerk.
It is a violation of the KOMA for a majority of a quorum of elected officials to meet without proper notice.