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Village of Lyndon found in violation of meetings act

Lyndon had already acknowledged it broke the law

Published: Friday, April 18, 2014 1:15 a.m. CDT • Updated: Friday, April 18, 2014 9:01 a.m. CDT

LYNDON – The attorney general’s office has found that Lyndon’s board of trustees broke the Open Meetings Act – a violation the village had already acknowledged.

Last week, the state attorney general issued a letter to the village, saying the board should vote on only those issues listed on its meeting agendas.

On Jan. 14, 2013, the board voted to buy shirts and a coat for the police chief without first posting the issue on its meeting agenda. In response, village resident Tracy Shaffer filed a complaint with the attorney general, prompting the board to admit its violation and revote the issue.

Two months ago, the village attorney provided the attorney general with copies of the meeting agenda and minutes to prove the issue had been revoted, according to the letter.

In its determination last week, the attorney general’s office said that because the village had already corrected the matter, no further action was required.

“We remind the board, however, of its continuing obligation to comply with all requirements of [the Open Meetings Act],” Assistant Attorney General Tola Sobitan said in the letter.

Village President Tim Crady said the matter was closed.

“We made a mistake. We were in a situation where we just hired the chief, and he needed uniforms,” he said. “We have to remember to put things on the agenda. It was an oversight.”

In an email, Shaffer said the public clearly wants to know what is happening with its tax dollars.

“I am glad that the attorney general’s office allows for public input so that the public and governing bodies can work together to achieve accountability,” she said.

Last fall, the village’s attorney, Tim Zollinger, reminded the board of its obligations under the Open Meetings Act. He did so after Shaffer informed the attorney general that the village president had decided to expand a tree removal project, having called three of the six trustees to get their approval.

Zollinger informed the board that it could take action only at a properly advertised meeting, not through a phone poll.

In 2012, Crady admitted to “dropping the ball” by having a board vote behind closed doors. To correct that mistake, he called a special meeting to revote the issue, which was the firing of an employee, Will Shaffer, husband of Tracy Shaffer.

After residents complained about the vote behind closed doors, the trustees voted publicly on the issue at a later meeting.

Will Shaffer has sued the village, saying his firing was discriminatory.

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