May 17, 2012 — Carter County Attorney Patrick Flannery sent two letters to Attorney General Jack Conway on Wednesday concerning the creation of a regional jail authority.
In his first letter, Flannery stated that “…a clear and obvious violation of Kentucky Open Meeting law occurred [Tuesday] during a Fiscal Court meeting.”
Flannery said that because the regular meeting of Fiscal Court had been cancelled, the rescheduled meeting that occurred on Tuesday, May 15 must be considered a special meeting. Because of the nature of Open Meeting law that pertains to special meetings, the ordinances would have to be listed on the agenda. No mention of the ordinances presented and passed Tuesday was listed on the published agenda.
Flannery also stated that the letter, which was also sent to Carter County Judge Executive Charles Wallace, that “…it is the opinion of the duly elected Carter County Attorney (Flannery) that a first hearing must be re-conducted … comply with Kentucky Law.”
The second letter to the Attorney General requests an official opinion of the ordinances that were proposed on Tuesday. Specifically, Flannery asked that the legality of the establishment of a regional jail authority without the establishment of a separate and centralized “brick and mortar” jail facility.
Flannery stated that it was his understanding during the meeting that there would be no newly constructed regional jail and neither Boyd nor Carter counties’ current facilities would be designated as a regional jail. Flannery deduced from discussion during Tuesday’s meeting that both facilities would operate separately, but the regional jail authority would govern the daily operations of each facility.
“The proposed ordinance seems to put the control of the Carter and Boyd County jails in the hands of an unelected board of decision makers. The framers of our current Kentucky Constitution created unique duties to be performed by specific elected officials in each county. All public officials have taken an oath to honor said Constitution and this ordinance may very well violate that principle,” The letter stated.
Flannery stated that the opinion of the Attorney General on this issue will likely have “…broad implications within County Government law in Kentucky.”
The Journal-Times also attempted to deliver a letter to Wallace listing three instances of violations of the Open Meetings Act that are believed to have occurred during and before Tuesday’s meeting. Wallace refused to accept the letter in person, which has now been sent to his office via fax and certified mail.