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Ethics Commission works to rectify meeting violation

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- In a special teleconference meeting Tuesday, the state Ethics Commission did a do-over of votes on seven advisory opinions -- after inadvertently violating the state Open Meetings law by failing to provide adequate public notice of its meeting in December.

Commission executive director Joan Parker said the re-do provided a learning opportunity for the commission to show state agencies there is a proper procedure to rectify such violations.

"We can screw up, too," she said.

The Commission's Open Meetings Committee had previously issued an advisory opinion setting guidelines for boards and commissions to correct inadvertent violations of the Open Meetings Act by calling a second meeting to reconsider and re-vote on all matters taken up at the previous meeting.

The commission had posted notice and agendas for its Dec. 12 Ethics Commission and Open Meetings Committee meetings in advance on its website, but failed to provide public notice of the meeting at least five days in advance in the State Register.

In addition to correctly publicizing Tuesday's meeting, the commission also had posted drafts of the advisory opinions on its website.

"We're trying to be transparent in our transgressions," Parker said.

Additionally, the commission put out a press release specially inviting members of the public to attend Tuesday's meeting, though none did.

The sole item on the December Open Meetings agenda will be reconsidered when the full commission meets in February, since the issue is not time sensitive, she said.

"It's a good thing we only interpret, and not enforce it, or we would have had to prosecute ourselves," Parker said of the Open Meetings law.

Reach Phil Kabler at philk@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1220. 


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