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Area officials, public offered Open Meetings/Open Records seminar

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Event sponsored by Kentucky journalism groups

By Phyllis McLaughlin

I would like to extend my gratitude to the Kentucky Press Association, the Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues, and the Scripps Howard First Amendment Center at the University of Kentucky. Spurred by a suggestion I made to KPA Executive Director David Thompson last month, these three Kentucky journalism heavy-hitters have scheduled a Sunshine Seminar for 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Thur

I would like to extend my gratitude to the Kentucky Press Association, the Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues, and the Scripps Howard First Amendment Center at the University of Kentucky.

Spurred by a suggestion I made to KPA Executive Director David Thompson last month, these three Kentucky journalism heavy-hitters have scheduled a Sunshine Seminar for 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 11, at the Kentucky Broadcasters Association office, 101 Enterprise Drive, Frankfort, Ky. Cost is $20 per person, which includes lunch.

I will update you on this when I get that information.

This seminar is open to the public, and I encourage EVERYONE in Trimble County who is interested in the state’s Open Meetings and Open Records laws – for any reason – to attend this. But I especially hope that anyone directly involved in our local and county government – elected or not – make plans to attend this important and timely seminar.

As you probably know, this was sparked by a lawsuit filed against Milton City Commission, which includes a claim that said commission held illegal special meetings.

In a recent commentary, I expressed my opinion that everyone who is elected to a public agency position or is hired to work for a public agency in this county should be well-versed in what is known as our state Sunshine Laws. It is imperative that everyone – including the public – understands how and when our community governmental bodies can conduct public business. 

There are people in office who may not completely understand the laws and hold illegal meetings unintentionally. And, indeed, there are people who intentionally will try to conduct public business in secret. Sometimes, the reasons are benign, but the reasons don’t matter, in the end.

By no means is ignorance of the law a defense, particularly if you are a public servant. Everyone in city and county government is obliged to know and understand these laws. I, as editor of this paper, do my best to serve as a watchdog for the community to make sure meetings are held according to law. However, that’s a big job for one person. And sometimes, I may not hear if an illegal meeting occurs. That’s why the public, too, should have a firm understanding of these laws.

I will restate my premise from the Sept. 15 column: “This is one of the keys to our freedom here in America – the assurance that government is transparent and working for us.”

The biggest enemy our democracy faces isn’t Communism or terrorism – it’s complacency. As American citizens, it is our duty to take an active part in our government – even it’s only to vote at election time, which by the way is Nov. 2.

If we don’t pay attention to what our government and elected officials are doing, then we could lose the freedoms our sons and daughters in the military fight for every day.

 Phyllis McLaughlin is editor of The Trimble Banner and lives in Milton. The opinion expressed in this column is her own. Agree? Disagree? Then, please send us a letter for the Opinion Page to

Editor@MyTrimbleNews.com.