EDGAR CO. (ECWd) -
In responding to the Attorney General's office regarding two Open Meetings Act complaints filed against the Edgar County Board and the June 12, 2013 meeting, where the former board member and chairman Chris Patrick decided to eject a citizen from the meeting, the "Board" responded with a couriously worded letter.
The Letter Writer
It is somewhat unclear who actually authored the letter. The County Clerk signed it, but stated in the first paragraph that "Mr. Ben Jenness, now Chairman of the Edgar County Board (Board), asked me to respond, as follows.
So does that mean these are the comments of Ben Jenness? It's not clear...
"Mired" in FOIA Requests
This letter was 90% irrelevant to the alleged OMA violation. It talked about being "mired" in FOIA requests and OMA complaints for 2 years creating unneccessary tension and emotional stress for several County Officials and employees. They also do not see how the two people that filed the complaints were impaired.
Is the "unneccessary tension and emotional stress" because of the FOIA request? the Board's failure to follow the OMA law? or is it because of what we are exposing from those FOIA requests that is causing the tension and stress...?
The two people that filed complaints were impaired because their RIGHT to hear a citizen address the board was taken from them. You cannot hear what is censored and silenced. “Censorship is never over for those who have experienced it. It is a brand on the imagination that affects the individual who has suffered it, forever." Without being able to hear what a citizen wanted to tell the board, there was no way for the listeners to draw an opinion about the subject being referenced - other than wondering what the Board did not want exposed to the public, and that breeds distrust in the very public body that is now attempting to justify this alleged violation.
Offensive Comments Directed At Adonna Bennett
The second paragraph states that I directed "offensive comments" at Adonna Bennett and also made additional comments about her deceased father, (the letter writer states) who was a major donor to the Airport - and that "witnesses" stated Ms. Bennett complained of not feeling well during my presentation.
My comments were directed at the Board, in an attempt at clarifying the lengthy comments made by Ms. Bennett at the May 2013 Edgar County Board Meeting and the lies she told about IDOT and the FAA. It's not like she didn't know what I was going to say, since I basically said the exact same thing the night before at the Airport Board Meeting - and I told her that night I would repeat the comments at this county board meeting.
As for the comments about her deceased father, the comments were about what SHE said about him, NOT about me saying anything about him. I also commented on what she claimed qualified her to be on the Airport Advisory Board.
Mr. Allen's Comments and Timeline
The next paragraph talks about the timeline of events after Mr. Allen started his public comments. I thing they should have watched the video prior to writing that portion, including what happened after the meeting started again. They claimed Mr. Patrick needed to "regain control of the meeting and avoid further emotional stress."
The meeting was calm and nothing was out of control - please watch the video again and verifying that for yourself - and the only person in any emotional stress was no longer in the building! Unless we are only going to allow people to talk when nobody within listening range will become emotionally stresses over the comments??? Is that what we are going to do now?
The emotionally stressed person brought the criticism upon herself by injecting herself into the discussion (in May), sanctioned by the Board (putting her on the agenda), touting her "qualifications", which were all based on what her deceased father did (her own words from the May meeting). All this without the possiblity of futher discussion in May because public comment session was already over.
The two people that filed the complaints will respond to this letter with their own letter to the AG, and we will provide an update when they do.
Why not just admit the violation? Everyone knows it happened and it is even on video - what is so hard about saying "We did it, and will try to make sure it doesn't happen again"?