Mon, Sept. 16

Editorial: Mingus Open Meeting Law violation deserves second look

The Mingus Union School Board should ask the Arizona Attorney General’s Office for another review and full finding of fact over the Sept. 5, 2017, Open Meeting Law infraction for which the AG previously determined Mingus was at fault.

Revelations this week in Yavapai County Superior Court make the Open Meeting Law violation suspect.

A former Mingus Union executive assistant to the superintendent is accused of forging a letter to the AG’s office denying Mingus was guilty of any open meeting law infractions.

The letter was purported to be from former MUHS Superintendent Penny Hargrove.

According to a report by the Sedona Police Department, Hargrove denied authorizing the letter, and she did not sign it.

The same police report states the same former Mingus executive assistant was the person who filed the Open Meeting Law complaints to the AG.

Further, one of the key elements in the Sept. 5, 2017, finding of fact was the determination that the Mingus School Board convened in executive session without the presence of its attorney.

This one admittedly is a doubled-edged sword as Mingus board members should have known better.

On the other hand, it bears emphasis that Mingus’ contract attorney was not present at the meeting because she was not notified of the need for her presence by the executive assistant.

The same complaint also alleged a second violation by the Mingus board, but the AG investigation “was unable to substantiate a violation of the Open Meeting Law in connection with the October 13, 2017 Board Meeting.”

Finally, the police investigative report that led to the indictments against the former MUHS executive assistant, Brandi Bateman, states, “it appears she was setting (Mingus) up to fail. Brandi agreed with this assessment.”

It also bears emphasis that the former Mingus board and administration was far from perfect on the transparency front.

At least one of its actions – remedying open meeting law impropriety through ratification in August 2018 – certainly skirted the acceptable boundaries of Arizona’s Open Meeting Law.

But in the case of the Sept. 5, 2017, Open Meeting Law violation by Mingus, something certainly smells fishy, and it’s only fair to ask if the AG has the full and complete set of facts on what happened here.

All things considered, the current Mingus board should ask the AG’s office to review this case based on the current proceedings in Yavapai County Superior Court.

It deserves a second look.

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