Tuesday, February 28, 2017
Thursday, February 23, 2017
(b) An executive session may be held only upon a majority affirmative vote of the members present of the governing body of a public agency. A public agency may hold an executive session and exclude the public only when a closed session is required for any of the following actions:
(1) To consider acts of war, threatened attack from a foreign power, civil insurrection or riot;
(2) To consider:
(A) Matters arising from the appointment, employment, retirement, promotion, transfer, demotion, disciplining, resignation, discharge, dismissal or compensation of a public officer or employee, or prospective public officer or employee unless the public officer or employee or prospective public officer or employee requests an open meeting; or
(B) For the purpose of conducting a hearing on a complaint, charge or grievance against a public officer or employee, unless the public officer or employee requests an open meeting. General personnel policy issues may not be discussed or considered in a closed meeting. Final action by a public agency having authority for the appointment, employment, retirement, promotion, transfer, demotion, disciplining, resignation, discharge, dismissal or compensation of an individual shall be taken in an open meeting;
(3) To decide upon disciplining, suspension or expulsion of any student in any public school or public college or university, unless the student requests an open meeting;
(4) To issue, effect, deny, suspend or revoke a license, certificate or registration under the laws of this state or any political subdivision, unless the person seeking the license, certificate or registration or whose license, certificate or registration was denied, suspended or revoked requests an open meeting;
(5) To consider the physical or mental health of any person, unless the person requests an open meeting;
(6) To discuss any material the disclosure of which would constitute an unwarranted invasion of an individual's privacy such as any records, data, reports, recommendations or other personal material of any educational, training, social service, rehabilitation, welfare, housing, relocation, insurance and similar program or institution operated by a public agency pertaining to any specific individual admitted to or served by the institution or program, the individual's personal and family circumstances;
(7) To plan or consider an official investigation or matter relating to crime prevention or law enforcement;
(8) To develop security personnel or devices;
(9) To consider matters involving or affecting the purchase, sale or lease of property, advance construction planning, the investment of public funds or other matters involving commercial competition, which if made public, might adversely affect the financial or other interest of the state or any political subdivision: Provided, That information relied on during the course of deliberations on matters involving commercial competition are exempt from disclosure under the open meetings requirements of this article only until the commercial competition has been finalized and completed: Provided, however, That information not subject to release pursuant to the West Virginia freedom of information act does not become subject to disclosure as a result of executive session;
(10) To avoid the premature disclosure of an honorary degree, scholarship, prize or similar award;
(11) Nothing in this article permits a public agency to close a meeting that otherwise would be open, merely because an agency attorney is a participant. If the public agency has approved or considered a settlement in closed session, and the terms of the settlement allow disclosure, the terms of that settlement shall be reported by the public agency and entered into its minutes within a reasonable time after the settlement is concluded;
(12) To discuss any matter which, by express provision of federal law or state statute or rule of court is rendered confidential, or which is not considered a public record within the meaning of the freedom of information act as set forth in article one, chapter twenty-nine-b of this code.
Wednesday, February 22, 2017
Here's what likely would have happened if the Marlinton Town Council had passed the ordinance but would not let people outside of the town limits vote on it:
The matter would have gone to court, probably the Supreme Court of the United States. Opponents of taxation without representation would have jumped on this and would have won. They would have won because the fire fee was essentially an unintended scam.
One customer (The town of Marlinton) was trying to force the other customers (people living outside the town limits to pay $$$ for a service merely used by the town not provided by the town.
The town council was forced to admit that it had no authority to make any other customer pay for a service that they themselves voted upon.
The basic question was "taxation without representation." This is still a touchy issue in American over 200 years since the tea was dumped into Boston harbor.
It wasn't merely a matter of the "fee" but the fact that people were being forced to pay for a service without getting to vote on it.
As the old say goes, Don't pee on my shoes and tell me it is raining!
I am so glad that the town council decided to back off and throw this illegal proposal out the door. Good going. I am also glad that Mayor Sam likewise recognized the futility of the proposal and backed off so. Sam Felton is a good mayor who is trying to do the right thing. But sometimes we just don't see things the same way.
I had complained about this fee from day one. I said that we still remembered having a tea part several years ago which caused a revolution in America. I am glad that this proposal was scuttled in the harbor before it because law.
Now the bright side: The MVFD can tell proceed in a legal manner which is already approved by state law. They won't have to invent their own law which will have multiple challenges. They will turn to the County Commission and ask them to impose a fire fee on the whole county.
True, there will be multiple firefights and legal challenges but ultimately the law will be held that the County Commission will successfully impose the county wide tax. It will be approved by lawfully elected commissioners and it will have support from the people.
The bright side is that ALL THE DEPARTMENTS will get equal funding for their services. Frost will have support, Cass will have support, Durbin will have support. And all of this will be from the electorate who can kick out any county commissioner who votes for more taxes. County commissioners will approve the fire tax at the risk of their careers. AND THAT IS GOOD!
Democracy will be validated and advanced by this lawful outcome.
Various fire departments will advance upon the county meetings pleading for their share of the new pie. Then there will be fighting break out among them but that is not bad. Competition for the largess of the county will make for improved service and ALL OF US WILL BENEFIT.
The fire departments will remain as volunteer fire departments manned by people who do so out of the goodness of their hearts and the love of their neighbors.
Attending a county commission meeting will now be exciting and stimulating.
My wife's first response upon hearing the good news was that we have to send in our voluntary donation to the fire departments. AND WE WILL!