Supervisors should know, do better

Published 12:01 am Friday, February 8, 2008

Three Adams County Supervisors shut out the public last week as they met illegally; circumventing state laws intended to protect the very citizens who pay the supervisors’ salaries.

Violating the state’s Open Meetings Law is a big deal. It doesn’t matter how harmless the meeting’s discussions were.

The law was put into place to protect you — Mr. and Mrs. Taxpayer — from secretive practices by your government.

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Elected officials are stewards of public money and the Mississippi Open Meetings Act exists to help citizens have better access to county government.

Do we think that supervisors Henry Watts, S.E. “Spanky” Felter and Mike Lazarus were plotting something evil when they met in secret with the county road manager and county engineer?

Certainly not. We believe them when they say the meeting was harmless.

But that’s not the point.

The law is the law.

And by meeting without anyone else knowing, the three violated the law.

At worst, we believe they did so knowingly. At best, they did so out of ignorance.

But as any good prosecutor or judge will tell you, ignorance is no excuse for breaking the law.

Supervisors generally participate in meetings and training sessions put on by the Mississippi Association of Supervisors. The MAS routinely holds orientation sessions for new supervisors and provides written guidelines and advice for supervisors, including explaining the state’s Open Meetings Laws.

Come on guys, get your heads in the game and take the responsibility for understanding the laws you swore to uphold when you took office.