The Calloway County Public Library Board held a special meeting Tuesday to address letters that alleged board members violated the Open Meetings Act.
Board President Audrey Neal said letters from community members Nancy Mieure, Eva King and James Gallimore were sent over the weekend. One letter said Board Secretary Mark Kennedy improperly brought up a new plan for library expansion at a strategic planning meeting when it wasn’t on the agenda.
Kennedy said the plan fell under the item ‘S.W.O.T,’ or ‘strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats’ concerning the future of the library. He said it was brought up during the ‘opportunities’ discussion.
Kennedy and board member Joseph Walker refused to apologize during the meeting. “As a citizen of Calloway County I will not be stifled in my right to say something and make a proposal that makes sense and I’m not gonna do it,” Kennedy said.
During the discussion of the letters, Walker addressed the room of community members. “We’ve been severely criticized by this group- not all of you- but members of this group for not getting anything done...for years and years you sat here and treaded water trying to put more money into this project. Well we will get something done despite you and I am sick and tired of someone trying to undermine us,” he said.
The second letter said Kennedy and Board Treasurer Winfield Rose improperly gave tours of a former bank downtown being considered as an alternative to the proposed expansion. The board agreed that there were not enough members present at the tour to make a quorum.
The third letter alleged that Kennedy and Rose met to discuss library board business outside the meetings. Kennedy denied this allegation.
Neal has since apologized on behalf of the board for the alleged violations. WKMS News has a copy of the letters sent to the board.
Neal's response to Gallimore and King:
The Calloway County Public Library Board of Trustees held a Special Called Meeting on November 6, 2018 at 4:30 in the meeting room of the Calloway County Public Library to address the alleged violations of the Kentucky Open Meetings Act that you outlined in a letter via email dated November 5, 2018.
There has been no official action taken regarding the H.A.L.T. proposal, developed by Mr. Mark Kennedy. This proposal was disseminated to members of the public and members of the Board of Trustees during the SWOT Analysis conducted at a Special Called Meeting of the Calloway County Public Library Board of Trustees on October 15, 2018. However, the proposal was not discussed, nor was any action taken regarding the proposal.
At this time, any action taken regarding the possible purchase and renovation of the former Regions Bank building has been undertaken by individuals acting as public citizens, and not as trustees. The board is not promoting this proposal, and any information presented in the newspaper or other information outlets, including social media, stating that this is a board-sponsored project is incorrect.
The Calloway County Public Library Board of Trustees will only take action on this proposal once it is officially brought before the board during a regularly scheduled board meeting.
Neal's response to Mieure:
The Calloway County Public Library Board of Trustees held a Special Called Meeting on November 6, 2018 at 4:30 in the meeting room of the Calloway County Public Library to address the alleged violations of the Kentucky Open Meetings Act that you outlined in a letter dated November 2, 2018. The board's response to these violations is as follows:
Violation 1: Distribution of the "H.A.L.T." proposal at the Special Called Board Meeting of the Calloway County Public Library Board of Trustees on October 15, 2018
The Kentucky Open Meetings Act states: "The notice of a special meeting must include the agenda, containing specific agenda topics ("new business," "old business," "open to floor," etc. are not acceptable), in addition to the date, time, and place of the meeting.
The Calloway County Public Library Board of Trustees did not violate the Kentucky Open Meetings Act at the October 15, 2018 Special Called Meeting. The sole agenda item for this meeting was "Strategic Plan / SWOT." Mr. Kennedy maintains that distribution of his proposal to members of the Board of Trustees and members of the public who were present was relevant to the discussion taking place during the examination of the "opportunities” section of the SWOT analysis being conducted that evening. The members present did not discuss the proposal at the meeting, no time was spent looking over it or reading it, and no action was taken regarding the proposal.
No apology to the public, other board members, and the library staff will be forthcoming from Mr. Kennedy or the Calloway County Public Library Board of Trustees at the November 2018 meeting.
Violation 2: Tours offered on November 1, 2018 of the former Regions Bank building violated the Kentucky Open Meetings Act
The Kentucky Open Meetings Act states that "all gatherings of a quorum of the members of a public agency at which public business is discussed or action is taken are public meetings and must be open to the public, regardless of where they are held and regardless of whether they are regular, special, informational, or casual gatherings held in anticipation of a regular or special meeting."
Dr. Winfield Rose and Mr. Mark Kennedy were the only two trustees in attendance during the tours of the former Regions Bank building. Since there were only two members present, a quorum was not met; as a result, there was no violation of the Kentucky Open Meetings Act during these tours.
No apology to the public, other board members, and library staff will be offered by the three named trustees (Mr. Joe Walker, Mr. Mark Kennedy, and Dr. Winfield Rose) at the November 2018 meeting.
Violation 3: Discussion of possible library expansion outside the confines of a called meeting of the Calloway County Public Library Board of Trustees