Editor’s note: This is the sixth installment of an ongoing series taking a detailed look at the recently released audit for the town of Mannsville, spanning from July 11, 2011 through Dec. 31, 2015. Previous parts of the series are available at Ardmoreite.com.

By Robby Short
robby.short@ardmoreite.com
Oklahoma State Auditor and Inspector Gary Jones has released his office’s findings in the audit of the town of Mannsvile dating back to July 11, 2011 including the following findings regarding the Open Records Act and the Open Meetings Act
Review of possible destruction of records along with violations of the Oklahoma Open Meeting Act and the Oklahoma Open Record Act.

• Minutes could not be provided for four board meetings and some of the minutes provided did not clearly summarize the proceedings of the meetings.
The audit notes that meeting minutes for the Jan. 29, July 14 and Aug. 11, 2014 as well as the Jan. 12, 2015 “could not be located.”  The audit also noted that on more than one occasion, items listed on the agenda were not addressed in the minutes and at least one item not on the agenda was discussed in the minutes of another meeting.

• Trustee votes were not always recorded as required by the statute.
According to the audit, state law requires that “In all meetings of public bodies, the vote of each member must be publicly cast and recorded.” The audit notes that on 4 occasions, votes were not completely recorded and in some cases, the votes were not recorded at all on motions that were listed as “majority rule and motion passed.”

• Executive sessions were entered into for unauthorized purposes and documented incorrectly on meeting agendas.
The audit notes that on 7 occasions an executive session was entered by town trustees and 2 additional meetings where a possible executive session took place, but minutes could not be found to confirm an executive session had occurred. The audit also stated that on 2 of the noted executive sessions, the purpose of said sessions was not authorized by statute.

• The town entered into an unauthorized executive session documented in the board minutes as a recess.
The audit states that during the Jan. 16, 2014 meeting, the meeting minutes reflect that Mayor Don Colbert  called for a “recess” to interview candidates for the position of interim fire chief, later reconvened in the meeting to take action based on their interviews. The audit states that since a quorum of the board was present the action would be considered an official action and should have been listed on the agenda and documented in the minutes.

• Board of trustee members violated the Open Meeting Act by conducting an undocumented board meeting.
The audit states that according to Colbert, board members met and discussed a course of action for preparing a letter to protest SA&I’s audit engagement. “Per Colbert, board members met in the office of Town Hall with no agenda, no official meeting and no recording of minutes.”

• Two sets of conflicting minutes for the same board meeting were found at Town Hall.
According to the audit, a review of board minutes produced 2 sets of minutes for the MPWA meeting on April, 30, 2015 with the first set of minutes being signed by 3 trustees and 4 items were considered. The second set of minutes was not signed and considered 9 items, including 4 of which were present on the first set of meetings. Auditors could not determine why two sets of minutes were provided or which set of minutes were the correct recording of the meeting.

• Open Records requested were not documented by the town preceding a determination as to whether all requests had been fulfilled properly and in a timely manner.
The audit states that Shonda Barnes said citizens were asked to put any request for town records into writing but was unable to provide the documented record request. The audit noted that on July 30, 2014, a civil court case was filled against the town of Mannsville for failure to disclose and produce public records.

• The town could not produce copies of town ordinances.
The audit states that “Town officials initially conveyed, though a note attached to a box of records, there were no policies and procedures in place and that no current book of ordinances was maintained at Town Hall.” The audit states that the auditors were able to obtain a copy of the town’s ordinance book from the Johnston County Law Library dated Sept. 10, 2001, adding “In addition to not maintaining an ordinance book as required, it was noted that ordinances were not published in the newspaper as required.”