According to Cowley County Attorney Chris Smith, Cowley College trustees violated the Kansas Open Meetings Act last week, when they used a secret ballot during the process of filing a board vacancy. According to the CourierTraveler, former board Chairman Dennis Shurtz simply announced that Jill Long of Winfield, was the winner after the secret written ballots were tallied. Long was one of four applicants in line to fill the open board seat. According to Smith, the board members used the secret ballots because they did not want to embarrass the hopefuls who would not be chosen. But Smith says, despite what were most likely good intentions, in which the board members didn’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings, the selection of Long, by a process which did not allow for the public to know which Trustees voted for which candidate, was wrong. Now, the county attorney says there are a few choices that the trustees have open to them to avoid legal implications… They can call a special meeting within seven days to rescind the appointment of Long to the board, or they can hold a new vote “with full public view” to select a person from the previous applicants. Smith, according to the paper, said that he does not believe the board acted with malice or intent, and his office does not intend to prosecute, despite the fact that under the law, a possible fine of up to $500 for each member in violation is possible. The board already has scheduled a meeting at 3 p.m. today to revisit issue.
Source: VNC News

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