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Nothing amiss in attending meeting, supervisors say

By By Sheila Blackmon/The Meridian Star
Jan. 27, 2001
Two of the four Lauderdale County supervisors who met with Rep. Chip Pickering and Meridian officials Tuesday night say there was no violation of the state's Open Meetings Act.
Under the act, elected boards are required to give notice when a majority meets. Four of the five supervisors attended the meeting, which Pickering's press secretary, Quinton Dickerson, had dubbed a "private" meeting in an E-mail delivered to news media about two hours before the meeting.
Pickering said later he had instructed his staff to inform local media that the meeting was open and to invite their coverage.
Supervisors Jimmie Smith, Hank Florey, Craig Hitt and Ray Boswell attended the meeting at Union Station. Florey said it was not an official meeting and that Pickering's staff initiated it.
The problem is that state law says prior notice must be given whenever three or more supervisors meet.
Smith said they did not break the law by attending the meeting and that notifying people "wasn't our call" since "we were invited guests."
Hitt was unavailable for comment and neither Boswell nor board attorney Rick Barry, returned phone calls. Supervisor Q.V. Sykes did not attend the meeting.
Sheila Blackmon is a staff writer for The Meridian Star. E-mail her at sblackmon@themeridianstar.com.

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