Openness should be continued goal

Published 12:00 am Friday, February 5, 2010

We owe the Adams County Board of Supervisors an apology, we think.

Thursday, we criticized their move to discuss appointing recreation commission members in executive session, a clear violation of Mississippi Open Meetings Laws.

But, since the meeting occurred behind closed doors, we have no proof that the board did in fact have such a discussion.

Email newsletter signup

Our criticism was based on the fact that two supervisors did mention, during Monday’s meeting, a plan to discuss recreation in executive session.

Supervisor Mike Lazarus said he did not want to discuss the names of the five commission nominees publicly and suggested that board members pass their nominations to the board president.

Supervisor Henry Watts leaned in and said, “You remember on these other boards we do that in executive session.”

Lazarus agreed, and the meeting progressed.

Thursday, Supervisors Lazarus and Darryl Grennell notified us that they had not, in fact, discussed the board appointees in executive session.

If that’s the case, then we regret chastising the board for doing just that.

But our support of the Open Meetings Laws and fears that the board breaks it all too often has not wavered.

In fact, Watts acknowledged in the public meeting Monday that they usually discuss appointments to the hospital and school boards in executive session.

Though the board would likely argue that those appointments are “personnel,” and exempt from the law, we don’t believe that excuse falls in accordance with the spirit of the law.

Those board members are paid by the hospital and school district, respectively, not the county and are therefore not county employees.

Appointees to the all-volunteer recreation commission certainly wouldn’t be.

Maybe the board was on the up-and-up this time. We hope openness becomes a habit.