The Open Meetings Compliance Board will investigate a possible open-meeting violation by Frederick County commissioners.
The compliance board sent a letter Wednesday asking three commissioners to respond to allegations that they violated the Open Meetings Act when they participated in a radio show about the sale of the county-owned Citizens Care and Rehabilitation Center and Montevue Assisted Living Facility.
Commissioners Billy Shreve and Paul Smith were guests Saturday on “Frederick’s Forum” discussing the proposal when Kirby Delauter called in to comment.
Former Frederick County planning commissioner Catherine Forrence and Washington County resident Kimberly Mellon wrote to the compliance board Tuesday, saying the conversation met the requirements of a quorum and the public should have been given prior notice.
Forrence was pleased the situation would be investigated.
“They’re going to look into it, and it will be interesting,” she said.
Shreve, Smith and Delauter said Thursday that they had not seen the letter from compliance board requesting a response from the commissioners.
“You all are a step ahead of me,” Smith said.
He said that the county attorney, John Mathias, will coordinate an appropriate response on behalf of the commissioners.
Mathias did not respond to a call for comment Thursday evening.
Speaking to the News-Post for an article published Wednesday, he said he did not believe that the appearance was a violation but that the commissioners would respond accordingly if contacted by the compliance board.
Commissioners President Blaine Young said that he thought the complaint was frivolous.
“People need to realize that we’re at parades and functions all the time together. The key is, were they conducting county business?” he said. “That doesn’t mean that they’re discussing county business, but taking actions on county business.”
The commissioners who participated in the radio show said that they didn’t think they had broken the open meetings law.
“I don’t think there is a violation, so I think it will be resolved rather quickly,” Smith said.
Shreve said that the radio format was inherently public.
“We were on the radio. How (much) more public can you get, other than TV?” Shreve said.
He said that the complaint was a waste of taxpayer money, but Forrence said she thought the investigation was important to governmental transparency.
“It’s a good thing that we have Maryland law that superseded local jurisdiction on these kinds of issues,” she said. “I look forward to their compliance.”
Follow Kelsi Loos on Twitter: @KelsiFNP.