COLBERT, Okla. -- A special city meeting was cancelled Monday night after some city officials said it would violate the Open Meetings Act. The Colbert city council was set to discuss re-instating former Police Chief John Polston after he was fired, re-hired, and then fired again.
The Oklahoma Open Meetings Act states you must file a special meeting notice 48 hours in advance. City leaders couldn't agree on the legality of the meeting.
"I do declare this meeting to be an illegal meeting because of not being filed with the court clerk in time so we are...because this meeting is illegal,” said council member Maurice Robinson at the beginning of the meeting.
The newly formed council, with two new members after April’s municipal elections, was divided over whether they were breaking the law if this special meeting went on as planned.
City administrators say the agenda was filed with the Bryan county clerk on Saturday, but it didn’t meet the 48 hour advance notice requirement.
"I was not aware that I had to. I found out Saturday morning and she said go ahead and fax it over Saturday morning and that would be fine and didn't know what needed to be done," said Michelle Weger, the council member who filed the agenda.
Other Colbert council members disagree, saying the council members should know the rules. Penalties for violations could be 500 dollars and a year in jail.
"Them being new to the council is not an excuse. In the book that we have, the OML, it tells us we should know. So if we have an illegal meeting we shouldn't participate.,” Robinson said.
Two council members, Richard Parrish and Michelle Weger, met with city attorney James Thornley to discuss the legality, but wouldn't give KXII an answer.
Former council member Wyota Hannen held an unofficial public forum instead, allowing Colbert residents to air their concerns.
Colbert officials would not tell us if the meeting would be rescheduled and when that agenda would be filed.