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 No Quorum at the Forum

July 18, 2007 - Amid concerns that they had failed to provide the proper public notice required by the state’s Open Door Law, the Knightstown Town Council was only able to have two of its members participate in Tuesday night’s town council forum at the Hoosier Gym.

The public notice issue was raised by council members Valerie Trump and Cort Swincher as a private reception between council members and members of the Knightstown Chamber of Commerce, the hosts of the evening’s business expo and council forum, was getting underway at around 5:30 p.m. on Tuesday. The two were concerned that the presence at the forum of three or more council members – a quorum – would run afoul of state law.

Under Indiana’s Open Door Law, public agencies like the Knightstown Town Council are required to provide public notice of the date, time and place of their meetings at least 48 hours in advance. The law defines a meeting as “a gathering of the majority of the governing body of a public agency for the purpose of taking official action upon public business,” which includes receiving information, deliberating, making recommendations, establishing policy, making decisions or taking final action.

After advising their fellow council members and Chamber hosts of the issue, Trump and Swincher left the preforum reception, which lasted until about 5:50 p.m. The other three members of the council, President David Glenn, Vice President Nate Hamilton and Steve Nelson, stayed for the rest of the reception, but to avoid a possible violation of the ODL, only Glenn and Hamilton attended the business expo and council forum that followed.

Trump and Swincher both told The Banner that they had been discussing the forum on Monday evening when they realized that the attendance of the full council at the forum could present a problem due to the lack of public notice from the council. Both said they appreciated the Chamber organizing the event and regretted not being able to attend, but said they felt it was important to abide by the ODL’s requirements. “We should have posted a public notice if we were all going to be there,” Trump said.

As for which two council members would remain for the forum, Swincher said he supported the decision to have Glenn and Hamilton remain. “My feeling was that the president and the vice president ought to do the forum if we couldn’t all be there,” he said.

Approximately 50 people, including Chamber members and members of the general public, were present for the business expo, which featured more than a dozen local businesses and organizations, and the town council forum. During the forum, Glenn and Knightstown Clerk-Treasurer Judy Haines, responded to 10 written questions and comments that had been submitted by those in attendance, addressing issues dealing with the law enforcement, sidewalk and street repairs, utility meter readings and property taxes, among others.

“Overall, I was pleased with the turnout,” Randy Riggs, president of the Knightstown Chamber of Commerce told The Banner. While he said he was disappointed that all of the council members couldn’t stay and participate, Riggs said he understood the concerns raised by Swincher and Trump

 

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