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Complaint filed with state for council meeting

August 28, 2010

 

A county council meeting July 28 which likely violated Indiana’s open door law has now resulted in a formal complaint at the state level.

South Whitley resident Terry Goodrich said Friday he mailed his complaint form to the Indiana Public Access Counselor’s Office two or three weeks ago.

At issue is the county council meeting where the council voted down a request from Whitko Community Schools to have a referendum on the ballot in November for a proposed tax levy increase for the school district.

After the request was rejected, the council adjourned the meeting and two members left, but a new meeting was then called about a half an hour later when one of the two council members who left the first meeting returned for an unannounced meeting.

At the second meeting the same day, the council approved the request, under the direction of Whitko attorney John Whiteleather.

For Goodrich, the issue is the way the request was approved, not the request for the tax levy increase, for which he can vote against in the general election.

“If they’d passed the referendum legally, I’d have no problem with it,” he said.

A representative from the Indiana Public Access Counselor’s Office said Friday the office had not yet received the formal complaint.

Once received, the request will be reviewed and the county will be contacted for a response.

After that, the request will be given priority or non-priority status.

With priority status, the state’s public access counselor has seven days to issue an opinion on the issue, but priority status is reserved for a very narrow scope of issues, according to the office.

Another option is for the issue to be given non-priority status, which allows 30 days for an opinion to be issued.

Getting an opinion from the public access counselor can mean the plaintiff could be eligible for reimbursement of attorney and court fees if successful with a lawsuit.

Should the issue go to court, the vote by the county council could be overturned.

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