There were some raised voices involved, but the Barren County Fiscal Court still managed to pass a confirmation vote to settle an open records lawsuit with the Glasgow Daily Times Tuesday night during its regular meeting.
While the motion passed by the fiscal court Tuesday night stated it was “to confirm the settlement with the Glasgow Daily Times dismissing the pending court actions and authorizing payment of $2,500 to the Glasgow Daily Times,” the actual court actions regarding an open records battle over private investigator Michael J. Ober’s Barren County Detention Center records had already been dismissed. According to statements made by fiscal court attorney Jim Deckard in a previous Daily Times story, the fiscal court signed an agreement for Deckard to pursue a settlement during a closed session meeting on Jan. 15. As a result of that agreement, signed by all members of the court except magistrate Chris Steward, on Jan. 22 Deckard was able to enter an agreed order of dismissal for the appeal with GDT attorney Jeremy Rogers. That order of dismissal ended the appeal in the court of appeals, and sent the case back to Barren Circuit Court. On Feb. 7, an order was filed that ended the circuit court case, instructing the fiscal court to release the investigative records immediately.
It was the fact that the case is essentially already over that bothered magistrate Chris Steward, who has always opposed the fiscal court giving the Ober records to the Daily Times. Steward asked Judge-Executive Davie Greer to confirm when the settlement was agreed to, and she confirmed the settlement was agreed to at a previous fiscal court meeting. Specifically, that agreement was made in the Jan. 15 closed session, Steward said, which made it an action taken in closed session. Kentucky open meetings law prohibits any final action in closed session.
“If that was agreed upon and an action was taken, that was a blatant violation of open meetings law,” Steward said.
For the full story, see the print or e-edition of the Glasgow Daily Times.
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