It seems that the Douglas County Board of Commissioners may be skirting the purpose and intent of Oregon Public Meeting laws. Although our public meeting law in Oregon is not perfect, it is actually pretty good and requires pretty much most meetings about county business where at least two of our county commissioners are in attendance to be public meetings, as defined by ORS 192.
After taking a cursory inquiry into this matter last week, Citizens Education & Advocacy (CEA) has some concerns about whether this meeting was an appropriately convened public meeting or was it an effort by the Douglas County Commissioners to openly flaunt the law. To find the answer to this, we must look at ORS 192, as well as what actually happened. Looking at the law is not a problem but getting answers to what really happened may be one.
Oregon Public Meeting Law -Oregon Revised Statute (ORS) 192.610- 192.695
So there is no doubt about the letter of the law, here is a link to the official version of the entire text of ORS 192. This is the 2017 legislative version:
The public meetings portion starts at 192.610, with definitions, but we will start with the sections about the purpose or Policy of our public meeting laws and provide links to some portions that are most relevant to the discussion at hand. These are not the official legislative and are maintained by a private website however it is easier to find each section you want. The site also provide a quick link to annotations and other relevant information that may apply:
As you will notice, the law not only requires the meeting be open to the public, it also has other requirements. Two most notable are the Notice of the meeting section and the requirements for a recording or minutes to be done.
Good question and we don’t have all the answers yet but here is what we do know:
A meeting was held last Thursday, March 22nd, at a local church in Green.
Certain members of the public were there, however we have gotten a report that notice was sent to people by someone asking them not to attend unless they lived in the Green area.
All three Douglas County Commission members attended.
The following was submitted to us as the official Notice of the meeting by the Do Co Commissioners.
Follow up inquiry about whether the notice actually complied with the Notice requirements under ORS 192, and whether there was a recording or minutes of the meeting recorded that were submitted to Douglas County Council Paul Meyer have gone unanswered.
CEA’s next step is to make a formal public records request about these, as well as other information about how the meeting was set up and how information about it got to the County Commissioners, as well as how they established the Green special meeting.