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DAVIS: Former judge-exec should rescind comments
To the editor:
An Oldham County Circuit Court judge recently issued a decision regarding a civil lawsuit I filed against Judge-Executive Duane Murner.
Additionally, former Judge-Executive John Black took issue with the matter in The Oldham Era in January. Mr. Black’s opinion reveals his view on how local government should operate, that being in a naive, stealth and non-transparent manner.
The issues in question were Murner’s denial of my open records request to disclose the identity of an anonymous donor to Oldham County Fiscal Court. Additionally, I requested that Murner disclose information that was illegally discussed in a closed meeting concerning the Oldham County Sewer District prior to any action being taken.
In its decision, the Oldham Circuit Court found absolutely no legal basis for Murner to refuse disclosure of the donor name upon my request. In fact, the court referenced a Kentucky Supreme Court decision, which states that donors’ privacy interest gives way to the public’s right to know when donating to a public agency. The decision of the Supreme Court predated my request to Murner and he disregarded it, as I cited the case in my request to him. Without revealing the identity of the donor, it’s impossible to know if anyone could be seeking influence or benefits through the actions or expenditures of fiscal court. Former President Reagan’s philosophy of “trust but verify” is more responsible than Mr. Black’s approach of blindly trusting our leaders.
On the second issue, the court found discussion in a closed meeting “went far and beyond” what was permitted by law and violated the Open Meetings Act. The meeting was an effort to gain agreement between members of the OCSD board and fiscal court to privatize operations of OCSD and implement a 25 percent rate increase. Murner was misleading about the true reason and intent of the closed meeting and refused to correct the issue upon my request. I believe customers of the sewer district had a right to open and transparent discussions on these issues; however, due to Murner’s preference for a cloak of secrecy and discussion of public business behind closed doors, OCSD customers were denied the right of proper communication about the matter. This is wrong and another clear example of non-transparent government. The court’s decision is a clear victory for the people’s rights regarding honestly and openness in government.
Mr. Black stated my action was “only about generating publicity by attacking Murner any way that I can” and had the “stench of a self-serving agenda.” He couldn’t be more wrong or misguided. John Black has made it clear he believes we should accept closed government. ... Does he not expect our county’s top executive to operate within the law? Mr. Black should rescind his comments, especially in the face of the court’s decision.
Magistrate Scott Davis, District 6
Oldham Republicans need support
To the editor:
I have financially supported the Republican National Committee for many years thinking that the RNC sent money back to state and local Republican organizations. I now know that this isn’t true, and the state and local groups are independent and must raise their own money to support local programs.
For that reason, I now contributed to the local Oldham County party. I hope others do the same, since local work gets done by local people; then it only makes sense to support it directly.
We are fortunate to have an active Republican office in Oldham County that is open all year. I believe that there are only a few others in Kentucky that are active all year, so please support the local office at 604 Crystal Place, Suite 20-B, La Grange, 40031.
John Jackson, Westport
Oldham schools’ reputation is at risk
To the editor:
There is an urgent financial matter that needs your immediate attention. Many of you moved to this county because of our schools’ excellent reputation. Year after year we are recognized for our phenomenal test scores and outstanding leadership in the area of education. Oldham County is often the model other public school systems follow when designing a comprehensive educational improvement plan. However, if we don’t act immediately, our system is faced with severe financial cuts that could jeopardize the superior level of service our children receive, and result in further out-of-pocket expenses for parents.
It might be hard to understand because of our numerous accomplishments, but Oldham ranks near the bottom of the list in per-pupil spending because we do not possess the taxable business base that is available to other counties. Therefore, our school system must scrape the bottom of the barrel every year for funds to maintain our status as one of the elite public school systems. With news coming from Frankfort that all districts could face drastic cuts because of the state’s budget crisis, our board of education will be desperate to find new sources of funding so they will not be forced to make cuts in vital services for your kids.
If you don’t want to see our children suffer because of the problems at the state level, there is something you can do. Contact Rep. David Osborne and Sen. Ernie Harris and insist they support House Bill 307. House Republican Floor Leader Jeff Hoover has sponsored legislation that would allow school districts such as ours to move money from building funds over to their general fund. Because of an outdated state law, school districts have not been given the freedom to mix these funds for years. If we were able to slide some of this money from our building over to our general funds, Oldham County would be able to save critical educational services for your children.
Everyone is extremely busy these days, but it would only take a few minutes to visit www.lrc.ky.gov and contact Mr. Osborne or Mr. Harris. You do not have to write a long letter; the volume of contacts our representatives receive is what will make the difference. Residents from Oldham County who sit on the board of education possess a much better understanding than out-of-town bureaucrats about what is best for our children. If we don’t act, parents could soon find themselves paying further out-of-pocket expenses for basic educational services. Act now and our kids will continue to thrive in the best public school system in the state.
Michael E. Slider, SOHS teacher