March 13, 2013 — State Rep. Jill York filed a bill in the 2013 legislative session to try to convince Carter Fiscal Court that it should be more open in its public meetings.
In our view, Rep. York was right to send such a message to Judge-Executive Charles Wallace and Magistrates Clifford Roe, Clarence Fankell, Mary Ellen Greenhill, Brad Brammell and Brandon Burton.
York’s bill had to do with past disputes about meetings not being moved to a larger venue than that old district courtroom used most of the time by Fiscal Court.
You will recall that last year one of the benches in that room collapsed under the weight of so many citizens trying to get into the meeting.
If you live in either of Carter County’s two cities – Grayson or Olive Hill – you can look the mayor and each City Council member in the eyes because they sit facing their audiences.
But that’s not the case in Fiscal Court where some of the magistrates sit with their backs to the folks who elected them.
Is that open and responsive county government? We don’t think so.
With public interest so high in the county’s business, we suggest that all meetings be held in the old circuit courtroom at the courthouse.
Regardless of where meetings are held, each member of the Fiscal Court, including the judge-executive, should have a microphone tied into a PA system so that all of their comments can be heard by those attending, including the news media.
The county should invest in a portable PA system with multiple microphones which could be used in either meeting room.
Capturing their comments also would result in official meeting videos that have better sound quality. Improved lighting also would be helpful.
We also suggest that the table and chairs for the magistrates be placed on a raised platform so they can be seen at all times by everyone who attends the meetings.
The judge-executive’s comments should be more audible to the entire room. He also needs to do be more forceful in discouraging magistrates and spectators from interrupting those he recognizes to speak.
We believe the judge-executive should vote on all motions before the Fiscal Court, not just to break tie votes which rarely occur.
Carter County’s citizens deserve to know where he stands on all of the county’s business.
If you’ve been to a meeting in the last year or so, you know it’s time for Carter Fiscal Court to face the people and speak clearly.