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Posted: Jan 14, 2008  13:03

Prosecutor's Open Meeting Complaint Report


Below is Prosecutor Jack Douglas' report regarding a complaint filed by editor Jay Cohn alleging Boundary County School District violated Idaho's Open Meeting Law:

"Enclosed is a copy of the police report prepared by Detective Mike Naumann relative to your complaint the open public meetings issue. Detective Naumann has told me that he interviewed the people who witnessed the possible violation and his finds are contained in that police report. Detective Naumann also informed me that the prevailing sentiment from those interviewed was to give the school district an opportunity to remedy the problem instead of filing possible violations against school board members.

"Today (Jan. 14), Detective Naumann and I have checked with the school district and it appears that they have taken substantial steps to solve any possible problems, including:

1. Installing a PA system for the monthly meetings;
2. Moving the chairs up closer to the board so that it is easier to hear'
3. Asking all board members to remember to speak up so that it will be easier to hear them at all times.

"This statement is being released to the media for public consumption because it is a very public issue and I believe there is a need to clear the air. It is addressed to you personally (and also as a member of the media) because it was your complaint to me that originally caused this investigation.

"Rest assured that law enforcement and my office take seriously claims of violations of open public meetings. I am sure you also realized that we are vested with considerable discretion in deciding whether or not to file against anyone in these matters. I have discussed the matter several times with Detective Naumann, including this morning. I have reviewed his filed and its findings and have thoroughly read the applicable law. Using the discretion granted to us and keeping in mind that our duty is to always seek justice, it seems more than likely the alleged violation resulted from poor acoustics and not a desire to hide anything from the public. It further appears to me that the issue is being resolved and this resolution by the school board is consistent with the notion that the principal aim of your complaint was to trigger remedial action by the board rather than filing under the Open Meetings Act.

"Accordingly, I am declining to file anything against any of the board members for the allegation of a possible violation contained in your letter to me. I will revisit the issue should the problem persist, but I believe at the present time there was no intent by the board to evade any of their responsibilities and that they are taking what appears to be effective remedial action. Therefore, there is no need for me to proceed further at this time. Hopefully, this will resolve the issue permanently."

Jack R. Douglas, Prosecuting Attorney


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