In the place on the online Arkansas Attorney General Attorney Consumer Complaint Form that asks a complainant to “Please explain the circumstances surrounding your complaint”, the following was entered:
Arkansas FOIA Violations
INFORMATION vs REGULATION Presentation to QC Committee (YouTube video)
In this video segment it seems clearly evident that elected officials deliberated away from public meetings in violation of the open-meetings section of the Arkansas Freedom of Information Act. This evidence includes the Chairman announcing to complainant, without prior public discussion, that he would be getting a letter demanding that the www.garlandcounty.info website be taken down. (Letter from County Attorney was received and answered: http://garlandcounty.info/mohammad-and-the-county-judge/). Other JP’s shown in the video segment made comments indicating they had earlier conversation about the topic, including Justice McKee cuing Justice Griffin to rebuke the complainant about use of what they thought at the time was a county-owned “seal”. Further, those earlier conversations/meetings/communications were evidently made without FOIA required advance notice to the press.
Justice McKee moved to “table consideration” of the complainant’s proposed ordinance immediately before hearing the complainant’s presentation of it. The Chairman promptly called for the vote without any invitation for discussion of the motion by committee members … presumably because discussion was previously done in private.
4:59 – 7:35 (https://youtu.be/a-cLA7vT9Xs)
In this video segment Justice McKee explains that since the last committee meeting he has been “in consultation with the judge and other members of the quorum court” regarding proposed Subdivision and Development ordinances. This appears to be a frank admission of FOIA violation by himself, the county judge, and other quorum court members.
The effect of these violations of the open-meeting provisions of Arkansas Freedom of Information Act resulted in the following:
- The Garland County public was denied opportunity to witness deliberations by elected officials on important public matters that the law requires be conducted in the open.
- The unprecedented “reject consideration of the proposal before we hear it” tabling action barred committee consideration of the proposed “INFORMATION” version of a Subdivision and Development ordinance (http://garlandcounty.info/regulation-vs-information/).
- The complainant was denied opportunity to answer questions and discuss details of the ordinance proposal following his presentation to the JP’s who could have made a “Do Pass” recommendation to the full Quorum Court (http://garlandcounty.info/tabled-indefinitely/).
In the place on the complaint form that asks for “Your view as to a fair resolution of the matter”, the following was entered:
- Quorum Court members should be exhorted by the AG office that failure to comply with Arkansas FOIA is a crime subject to prosecution by local prosecutors or the AG.
- The tabling of the “Information Version” of the GC Subdivision & Development ordinance should be undone and the proposal brought up for public discussion and consideration by the Garland County Quorum Court, and the public.
- If not prosecuted, QC members who violated FOIA open-meeting provisions should at least publicly apologize to citizens who their violations of the law may have adversely affected.