DA: Bus Board Violated KOMA, But No Charges Warranted

TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - No criminal action will be filed against board members of the Topeka Metropolitan Transit Authority for a March 29th meeting.

The meeting ended with a deal for the departure of former CEO Janlyn Nesbett-Tucker.

Shawnee Co. District Attorney Chad Taylor's office issued findings late Thursday of an investigation into whether the board's emergency meeting violated the Kansas Open Meetings Act.

A four-page report filed by Senior Assistant D.A. Matt Patterson said the meeting technically did violate KOMA, since media was not notified until afterward. Patterson says TMTA argued advance notice was not required because KOMA only requires advance notice be given to media who request it.

Prior to 2004, TMTA annually sent the media forms to request notice of meetings. Once TMTA stopped sending them, no media outlet requested the advance notice on its own. However, Patterson notes, TMTA continued to provide notice of all meetings, except for the emergency meeting in question.

Patterson says the board did take steps to immediately notify the media after the meeting, which he says "shows that there was some recognition by the TMTA of the statuatory duty of notice."

In the end, Patterson said the board made a good-faith effort to comply and the public's right to know "was not effectively denied." Therefore, Patterson said, "there is no cause seen in this matter to file any legal action against the TMTA."

Patterson's report also notes a second technical violation of KOMA. He says five board members met at a specific location to discuss who would be interim CEO after Nesbett-Tucker's departure. Patterson said some type of "serial communicaton" would have been necessary to arrange the meeting, which is warned against by KOMA.

Still, Patterson says, the board appeared to recognize the implications and tried to avoid a violation. He says it was another violation, but done without willful or malicious intent.

Despite not taking an legal action against the board, Patterson's report did recommend the TMTA board attend a KOMA training session, which is the Kansas Attorney General's Office provides at no cost.

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