Residents of the Central Yavapai Fire District have been keeping the Attorney General’s Office busy - lately with complaints of Open Meeting Law violations.
On four of those complaints, the Attorney General’s office agreed, and as a remedy, is requiring that the CYFD Board attend an Open Meeting Law training by the Arizona Ombudsman’s Citizen’s Aide.
So, what exactly are the Open Meeting Law violations?
The first two addressed in the letter from the Attorney General’s office had to do with two emails sent by Directors ViciLee Jacobs and Tom Steele on December 14, 2017 and March 15, 2018. In an effort at transparency, Jacobs and Steele sent emails to all the Directors on the Board, which basically meant that the electronic communication constituted a Quorum of the Board, and was not properly or publicly agendized. The explanation given is this:
So, basically, to use a modern phrase, it was "Too Much Information". If they had simply made a request that the item be placed on the agenda, it would have been acceptable.
Another complaint was regarding Director ViciLee Jacobs, who stood up during the Call to the Public to address an item not on the agenda. Jacobs had tried to get items on the agenda (in the December 14, 2017 meeting referenced above) but Board Chair Darlene Packard declined to put the items on. So, Jacobs brought them up during the Call to the Public.
The Attorney General’s Office determined that Director Jacob’s actions in this case did NOT violate Open Meeting Laws.
It is not known who made these complaints to the Attorney General’s office.
The next violation of the Open Meeting Laws occurred during the February 26 and March 26, 2018 Board meetings. Board Chair Darlene Packard would not allow Larry Jacobs and Chris Kuknyo to speak during the meetings. When they would try to speak, she banged the gavel, told them they were out of order and refused to let them continue.
Readers may recall these incidents:
In this video, start at 30 minutes, 51 seconds:
Well, it turns out that people are allowed to speak at Public meetings, even if it is a topic the Board may not care to hear about. Packard, who was acting on the advice of Board Attorney Nicolas Cornelius, nonetheless, violated Open Meeting Laws when she refused to allow Larry Jacobs and Chris Kuknyo to speak.
This OML violation complaint was sent in by Larry Jacobs, who felt that his rights had been infringed upon. The Attorney General’s Office agreed with him.
One more complaint was addressed, and that was a suspicion that Director ViciLee Jacobs may have released confidential information to her personal attorney. The Attorney General’s office did not find supporting evidence of this accusation and clearly determined, "…the Office was not able to substantiate a violation of the Open Meeting Law."
Today, at the CYFD Board Meeting, they will discuss a time for re-training in Open Meeting Laws. Their previous training has all been conducted by Board Attorney Cornelius. Evidently he needs a refresher course, too, since some of the violations occurred under his guidance.
Today's Meetings will be held at the Chino Valley Town Hall, 202 N. State Route 89, CV:
Chino Valley Fire District: 4 PM
Central Arizona Fire and Medical Authority: 4:30-6 PM
Central Yavapai Fire District: 6-6:30
Here is the entire document regarding the OML issue: