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Thursday, Aug. 28, 2014

Commission endorses retracting open records law

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

(Photo)
'The ability to discuss issues, hopefully before they come before the full county commission for a vote, could persuade people,' said county commissioner Alan Burchfiel (Trimble,?Tatumville), at left. 'Instead of having meetings that last all night hashing things out.'
The Dyer County Commission on Tuesday voted 18-1 to endorse a resolution diluting the state's Open Records Law by allowing elected officials to meet in groups of three, or just short of a majority, in secret without prior notice.

Current state law prohibits two officials from conducting official business without prior public notice. The law allows two members of a public body to talk informally without violating the law.

"State legislators can meet with each other in larger groups, and the governor can meet with his cabinet in private," said Commissioner Alan Burchfiel (Trimble, Tatumville), who was shepherding the resolution for Tennessee County Commissioners Association director David Connor in hopes of influencing the General Assembly to embrace the change.

Connor was scheduled to speak to the legislative body, but Burchfiel said he was not able to make the appointment.

"The ability to discuss issues, hopefully before they come before the full county commission for a vote, could persuade people," said Burchfiel. "Instead of having meetings that last all night hashing things out."

Steve Walker (Community Center, Hurricane Hill) was the sole vote against the measure, but not because he advocates transparency in government.

"Is that too restrictive?" asked Walker about the measure. "If we don't pass it are we stuck where two people can't talk to each other?"

"That's the way it is now," said Mayor Richard Hill.

"So you mean to tell me we've been breaking the law all these years?" asked Walker.

"Yes, we've broken the law in the past as it stands now," said Hill.

"I don't know how any legislation got passed with that," said Walker. "It's happened because of a whole lot of discussion on the telephone and between people."

Burchfiel recalled the tenure of the late commissioner from Finley, Ray Jones Jr,, whose penchant for polling fellow lawmakers by telephone in the days before a meeting was effective, though as practiced it ran afoul of the law.

Commissioner Ralph Henson (Millsfield, Bogota) was absent from the meeting.

The resolution will be forwarded to Dyer County's legislators, Sen. Mark Norris (R-Collierville) and state representatives Phillip Pinion (D-Union City) and Craig Fitzhugh (D-Ripley) and to Connor at the commissioner's association.

The commission also acknowledged the purchase of a used road striper machine for the Dyer County Highway Department.

Dyer County Highway Superintendent Jeff Jones said he had purchased the $26,000 vehicle from an auction by the Alabama Department of Transportation. The striper is a 1997 model and was purchased new for $150,000, Jones said.

Each mile of stripe on the county's road currently costs about $450 when the work is contracted. By the county owning its machines and doing its own work, the price falls to around $100 per mile, he said.

The commission voted to allow County Clerk Diane Moore to put the matter in the form of a resolution.


Comments
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Why pay state and local lawmakers if they can ignore each others laws? Abolish the level that doesn't work.

Instead of just the striper why not go back to making prisoners work for their board on road gangs.

-- Posted by LarryVII on Thu, Dec 13, 2007, at 6:12 AM

From: The Tennessean - Nashville,TN

"And this is news?

Of course they want to quash the Open Meetings Law entirely. It is in the interest of "elected and appointed public" officials to conduct their business shielded from the sight of the public they serve.

Are they so ashamed of the deals (compromises?) that they work behind the scenes that they cannot let the people that elected them know how shady they really are? Could it be that the fear another "Tennessee Waltz investigation and resulting criminal investigations and charges?

If any public business is being done by two or more public officials it should be out in the open and above board. Remember, these people represent you and me and are or should be held to the very highest standards of conduct, honesty, and compliance with all laws."

-- Posted by terryt on Thu, Dec 13, 2007, at 11:43 PM

Nothing is going to change, they have been doing this since I can remember! Good O Dyersburg and Dyer County. Your either in or out, and most of us are out.

-- Posted by DFD on Fri, Dec 14, 2007, at 7:36 AM


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