Convention center committee off and running

The steering committee charged with the responsibility of planning a downtown Owensboro convention/events center is off and running, having held it first meeting Wednesday at the Daviess County Courthouse.

After electing Daviess County Judge-Executive Reid Haire chairman of the seven-member committee on Owensboro Mayor Ron Payne’s motion, the first item of business was selecting CityVisions Associates, a Louisville urban planning and design company, to assist the committee.

CityVisions’ consulting fee will be approximately $200,000, with the final amount determined by how many months the company spends on some of the tasks in the contract. The first order of business for CityVisions is to conduct a feasibility study for the convention center.

Look for the full story in Thursday’s Messenger-Inquirer.

City, county reject Messenger-Inquirer’s open meetings law complaint

The city and county have rejected a complaint by the Messenger-Inquirer filed last week accusing the two government bodies of breaking Kentucky’s open meetings law with their recent decision to try to buy the Executive Inn Rivermont.

The gist of the response from the city and county is that neither body took “final action” in agreeing on a price to offer for the closed, 600-room hotel and submitting what they call a preliminary purchase offer to hotel owners Marshall Investments.

That decision was reached not at an official meeting but during several conversations among elected officials, according to Downtown Development Director Fred Reeves and Daviess County Judge-Executive Reid Haire. However, since the city and county don’t view the decision as a” final action,” they maintain that no official meeting was required.

To learn more about what the open meetings law says and when violations occur, check out my earlier post here.

The newspaper submitted an appeal of the rejected complaint on Wednesday to state Attorney General Jack Conway’s office, which will make a ruling in 10 business days.

Read the full story in the Messenger-Inquirer.

Open records, closed meetings – What’s all the fuss?

In his foreword to the “Kentucky Open Meetings and Open Records Laws” handbook that sits on the desks of most reporters around the state, former Legislative Research Commission Director Vic Hellard Jr. explains that the state passed an Open Meetings law 34 years ago “to provide the people with greater access to government.”

The law gives the average citizen and the press the opportunity to see how decisions are made by the governments that represent them, along with granting those public bodies protections when deciding certain potentially sensitive issues such as personnel matters and property purchases.

Those two competing rights were at the root of a complaint filed by the Messenger-Inquirer last week over a decision by the city of Owensboro and Daviess Fiscal Court.

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