Survey on closed meetings was inaccurate, but group not changing position

February 26, 2004|LIZ MAPLES

Lexington and Louisville have, in fact, met behind closed doors to discuss lawsuits, litigation and property, contrary to a letter presented by the Danville Citizens for Good Government to the City Commission.

The DCGG complained that city commissioners meet too often in "executive session," citing its own survey that showed more than 85 percent of the meetings in 2003 included closed sessions to discuss issues that are exempt from the Kentucky's Open Meetings Law.

But according to Danville City Clerk Donna Groves, the figure for Danville is actually 100 percent. Groves told The Advocate-Messenger that there were no city commission meetings in 2003 during which there was not a closed session. Further research indicated that the city held only one meeting in 2002, under the previous administration, in which there was no closed session.

Lexington-Fayette Urban County Council met behind closed doors at least 14 times in about 24 meetings in 2003, a 56 percent rate, according to Paul Schoninger, who works in the council's communications office. DCGG had reported that the Fayette body did not meet in private at all during 2003.


The contradiction in the Fayette comparison appears to be a matter of terminology. Fayette's council calls it a "closed session" when the entire body meets in private. It uses the term "executive session" when the mayor, the vice-mayor and three at-large members of the council meet behind closed doors.

Louisville Metro Council had one or two closed sessions in 2003, according to Carla Blanton, who works in the council's communication office. She said that the group goes into closed session from a work meeting before the council meetings, and so it isn't listed on the agenda.

DCGG Acting Chair Ron Jackson said that the clarified information about Lexington and Louisville, and the updated figure for Danville, doesn't change the group's position.

"We still have an extreme high number of executive sessions for a city of any size in Kentucky," he said.

"Call it by any name you wish. It is still governance out of the eyes of the citizens for whom it operates," Jackson said.

An intern who works for Jackson compiled DCGG's information by reviewing online agendas.

"Whether our intern overlooked it or not, our complaint still stands," Jackson said. "The people of Danville have a right to see what's going on with our government."

Commissioners told DCGG Monday when they heard the letter that they believed their closed-door meetings were being held legally.

Commissioner Terry Crowley said he doesn't foresee the body having any fewer executive sessions.

The meetings often last for hours and commissioners rarely take action afterwards.

Central Kentucky News Articles