Archive for Saturday, January 10, 2009

Casino meeting violated law

January 10, 2009

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— The head of the Ford County Commission unintentionally violated the Kansas Open Meetings Act last fall when he failed to notify the public about a discussion with a casino developer, the county attorney says.

Attorney John Sauer said in a letter delivered to the Dodge City Globe this week that the violation was a result of “ignorance and not ill will.”

At issue was an Oct. 16 meeting with Butler National Service Corp. about issues related to the Olathe-based company’s for a casino in Ford County. The meeting came after Butler was picked to develop, build and manage the state-owned casino.

County Commission Chairman Kim Goodnight said the clerk’s office is responsible for notifying people about commission meetings.

Goodnight had told County Clerk Vicki Wells the meeting was informal and her office told only a reporter from the Daily Globe.

Wells has a list of people who have requested notice of all commission meetings and work sessions. Under state law, the county must notify everyone on that list when the commission meets.

“I don’t even have that list of people that requests that,” Goodnight said. “That list is kept in the clerk’s office. There’s a reason for that, because that’s who notifies.”

The Daily Globe had asked the Kansas attorney general’s office to investigate the possible violation. The case was then referred to Sauer.

Sauer said the commission took no action during the meeting with Butler, so no decisions will needed to be set aside or voided.

Wells said she always believed the violation was not intentional.

“It was just an informational meeting, and we just kind of didn’t think that far out,” she said. “We just thought, well, it wasn’t necessary. You knew, and that was all that was necessary.”

Sauer suggested that the county’s legal adviser should provide a class about the requirements of the open meetings act to the commission, the county clerk and all department heads.

Butler National started work last month on its western-themed complex in Dodge City and hopes to have the casino and dining area open by early December. It plans to complete the $88 million complex at the end of 2011 with 875 slots, 20 game tables and a 124-room hotel and convention center.

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