Joe P. Asher
The Office of the Attorney General has published an opinion stating the city of Benham violated law in regards to a special called meeting on Nov. 15.
The attorney general’s office summarized the decision as “Benham City Council violated KRS 61.823(3) in failing to describe items on the agenda for its Nov. 15 special meeting with adequate specificity to ensure fair notice to the public of the particular topics to be discussed or acted upon during the meeting.” The attorney general further states council also committed a violation by failing to issue a final written response within three business days.
It was Benham resident Roy Silver who brought the matter to the attention of the attorney general.
“The Nov. 15 meeting by the Benham City Council, the agenda for that meeting was stated as being for personnel and projects,” said Silver. “It was a special called meeting. I sent a letter — the same letter that I sent to the attorney general — to the mayor stating that the meeting was illegal.”
According to Silver, the council’s agenda did not properly show what was to be discussed during the meeting.
“(In) a special called meeting the agenda has to be real specific as to what you’re covering,” said Silver. “For example you can’t say ‘projects’ you have to mention a specific project. You can’t say ‘personnel’ you have to be specific about the personnel issue you’re dealing with.”
Silver said the city did not furnish him with an appropriate response within the three day time frame required.
“They had three days to reply and the only reply I got was an acknowledgement that they had received the letter,” said Silver. “By law, they are supposed to reply and give a reason why they either agree or disagree.”
Silver said he brought this to the attention of the attorney general because of the importance of what took place during the meeting.
“The former mayor resigned and the…council appointed someone to be the mayor. I felt this needed to be done properly and include the newly elected council,” said Silver. “The attorney general has ruled in my favor, but of course that does not as yet have the force of law. It’s up to either the council — or at some point if it’s appealed — the Harlan County Circuit Court to determining what is the appropriate penalty or thing to do to correct this error.”
Benham Mayor Shirley Dodd said she is unsure what action the city will take on the issue.
“I’m not sure — I’m still studying that,” said Dodd. “But as far as I know there’s no other action to be taken.”
Reach Joe P. Asher at 606-573-4510 or firstname.lastname@example.org