Auxier open door challenge revisited
Wednesday, October 16, 2013 11:00 AM
The Indiana public access counselor will reconsider his advisory opinion that the Jefferson County Board of Commissioners violated the Open Door Law last month.
Counselor Luke Britt said Tuesday that the commissioners never had a chance to respond to the formal complaint - which was filed by Hanover resident Warren Auxier in September - because neither the board nor County Attorney Wil Goering received proper notice of the complaint.
Auxier alleges that the commissioners violated the Open Door Law by discussing plans for an animal shelter during a closed executive session on Sept. 6.
The complaint notice and request for a response were sent last month to the commissioners via email; however, the items were sent to the wrong email address and were never received. The address provided by Auxier in his filed complaint form included an .org address instead of the correct .gov address for the commissioners, Goering said in a news release.
Goering notified the public access counselor's office of the error on Friday. In the news release, Goering said the commissioners plan to respond to the claims with the public access counselor and expect to be "completely vindicated."
Britt said because of time constraints and the volume of paperwork filed through his office, he relies on correct email contact information for the agency in question. The email is listed by the person filing the complaint.
Furthermore, he said the office typically does not follow-up with a formal letter or phone call after a complaint or advisory opinion; rather, business is conducted through scanning documents and notifying the all parties involved through email.
In his advisory opinion, Britt wrote that: "It is the opinion of the Office of the Public Access Counselor that, in absence of any response alleging otherwise, the Jefferson County Board of Commissioners violated the Open Door Law."
Given the new information, Britt said he will revisit the complaint once he receives an official response from the commissioners and possibly will have a decision by the end of the week.
"It's just out of fairness," he said. "I'm not sure if it will change (the opinion) substantively, but I'll look at their response."