The Knox County Commission this afternoon postponed a proposal to revisit the way it notifies the public when individual members want to meet with each other.
However, a number of commissioners, meeting as the Rules Committee, appear ready to implement a 48-hour notice. But, they said they wanted more time to research the issue. They’ll take it up again in November.
“I’d just like to put (a 48-hour notice) in our rules,” said commission Vice Chairman Brad Anders, who is spearheading the proposal. “There is no mechanism for punishment (if someone violates it), but it’s something the voters can see that reinforces confidence.”
Commission Chairman Mike Hammond agreed, saying “every person here ran on a 'more transparency' platform as I recall and I know I’m in favor of it.”
County Law Director Joe Jarret said “the courts have given inconsistent rulings on how to notice meetings,” but he suggested that “the safest way is to give at least 48 hours.”
He added that the law does not provide for emergency situations, something Commissioner Amy Broyles wants officials to look into.
This afternoon’s discussion, which lasted about 15 minutes, comes after officials said they were caught off guard in late September when Broyles, and commissioners Ed Shouse, Richard Briggs and Dave Wright held a small meeting to discuss county business at a Panera Bread restaurant on Kingston Pike.
Broyles sent notices to some officials and the media on a Friday evening – about 44 hours before the 3 p.m. gathering on Sunday, Sept. 25. But, many commissioners didn’t find out about it until Saturday morning.
Officials have not accused the commissioners of violating the Sunshine Acct, but do want to reach a consensus on how they notify the public. If they reach a decision, they will enter it into the body’s official rules.