The county auditor, treasurer, and prosecutor comprise the county budget commission, a public body subject to the Open Meetings Act. The Portage County Budget Commission never complied with that law until I sued it on January 8, 2020. Then the first ever notice of a meeting of the Budget Commission appeared in the Record-Courier:
On January 28, 2020, history was made in Portage County with the holding of the first open meeting of the Budget Commission. I was present at that historic event with my video camera to capture video for posterity.
Despite the notice and the meeting, the Budget Commission argued in court that it was not a public body and did not have to open its meetings to the public. Why would these three elected officials that make up the Budget Commission object to open meetings? Were they hiding something until I brought the secrecy to an end? Or do they harbor a fundamental resentment of public scrutiny?
The Budget Commission lost the not-a-public-body argument in court. On July 24, 2020, the court ruled that the Budget Commission is clearly a public body subject to the requirements of the Open Meetings Act.
Even after this ruling, the Budget Commission continued to deny any wrongdoing. That continued denial will be the topic of part 2.