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Stellar committee did not violate Open Door Law
Updated on: 06.24.14

The Indiana public access counselor has ruled that the Nashville Stellar Communities committee did not violate the Open Door Law when it met several times early this spring without announcing its meetings to the public.

Luke Britt's advisory opinion says that the committee is not subject to the Open Door Law because it is not a governing body.

To be a governing body, the committee would have to have been appointed directly by a public agency that is subject to the Open Door Law -- such as the town council or county commissioners.

"The Stellar Committee appears to be borne out of volunteers from various community agencies and is not galvanized under one agency's particular banner," Britt writes. "Therefore, the Committee is not a delegation or sub-committee at all, but rather a community action group or an association of volunteers. These types of entities are not contemplated by the Open Door Law or the Access to Public Records Act."

He also notes that in a previous, unrelated opinion, he advised a majority of one governing body against attending another organization's meeting because that could be construed as a meeting of that governing body. "As the Committee could be discussing public business in their meetings, area public officials should be mindful of these considerations," he said.

The opinion, filed June 23, was a response to two formal complaints filed by attorney Wanda Jones against the Town of Nashville, the Nashville-Brown County Stellar Committee and the Nashville Town Council.

She alleged the groups violated the Open Door Law by not posting formal public notice of Stellar committee meetings in February, March and April.

Jones said people were denied access to an April 23 committee meeting at the County Office Building because the outside doors were locked. Area Plan Director David Woods said that was an accident. He had directed that the doors be locked before a contentious Board of Zoning Appeals meeting that evening because he'd heard people were planning to save spaces for people who supported their views in an attempt to sway the board's decision. He said he didn't know that a Stellar meeting was happening in the same room at 4 p.m.

The Stellar committee has posted all its meetings after May 27 as open to the public.

Jones also alleged that the town violated the Access to Public Records Act by directing inquiries from Jones' firm for certain records to the town's attorney, when requests from other people for the same records had been fulfilled by town employees.

Britt's opinion does not address this complaint directly, only saying that the Stellar committee is not a public agency.

-- Sara Clifford, Brown County Democrat

Obituaries
See Full List »

Lillian (Anderson) Wentworth Henderson, 87, Brown County
  

William Emmett Fisher, 73, Elizabethtown
  Father of William “Mark” (Marissa) Fisher of Nashville

Margaret (Stanley) Whitaker, 80, Morgantown
  Wife of Rawlins Whitaker of Morgantown

  • August 29
    Watermelon fundraiser on Village Green
    1 to 4 p.m. Village Green, Main and Jefferson streets
  • August 30
    Golf scramble to benefit BCHS athletics set
    1 p.m. Salt Creek Golf Retreat, 2359 State Road 46 East
  • August 30
    Mission trip presentation at Fruitdale church
    2 p.m. Midway Church,
  • September 3
    WRAPS
    7 to 9 p.m. Library, 205 N. Locust Lane
  • September 3
    Future of rural places subject of talk
    5:30 p.m. Brown County Inn, 51 State Road 46 East
  • September 5
    BCHS class of 2005 reunion slated
    3 to 6 p.m., 8 p.m. Deer Run Park; Salt Creek Golf Retreat, 2359 State Road 46 East
  • September 6
    Read to dogs at the library
    2 to 3:30 p.m. Library, 205 N. Locust Lane
  • September 8
    Peaceful Valley Heritage meeting
    6:30 p.m. BCCF, 209 S. Van Buren St.
  • September 8
    Retired teachers
    noon Hotel Nashville, 245 N. Jefferson St.
  • September 9
    Nashville Town Council
    6 p.m. Town Hall, 200 Commercial St.
  • September 12
    Free community breakfast at Sprunica church
    8 to 10 a.m. Sprunica Baptist Church, 3902 Sprunica Road
  • September 18
    BucCornEar Festival fundraiser returns
    4 to 8 p.m. JTFD, 4831 Helmsburg Road, Helmsburg
  • September 18
    'A Miracle for You' services with evangelist Jerry Holland
    7:30 p.m. The Pentecostals
  • September 19
    BucCornEar Festival fundraiser returns
    8 a.m. to 8 p.m. JTFD, 4831 Helmsburg Road, Helmsburg
  • September 19
    'A Miracle for You' services with evangelist Jerry Holland
    6 p.m. The Pentecostals
  • September 20
    'A Miracle for You' services with evangelist Jerry Holland
    2 p.m. The Pentecostals
  • September 28
    American history DVD to play at library
    1 p.m. Library, 205 N. Locust Lane
  • October 4
    Read to a dog at the library
    2 to 3:30 p.m. Library, 205 N. Locust Lane