County executive session raises questions

Questions surround an executive session during a Marion County Commission meeting last week.

The Marion County Commission entered executive session during a special meeting on Friday to discuss bids for the county’s information technology services.

Dianne Novak, chair of the county commission, has expressed concerns that the commission violated provisions of the Kansas Open Meetings Act

“I was quite frankly confused,” Novak said. “If we aren’t supposed to go into executive session, then I don’t want to go into executive session.”

Novak said the commission went into the executive session with the intention of discussing matters that pertain to security, which are exempted through KOMA. What was discussed, she said, had nothing to do with security at all.

“We were discussing all the monetary stuff,” Novak said. “We were not supposed to discuss the financials.”

Novak said she unsuccessfully attempted to get ahold of the county’s legal counsel, Brad Jantz, who wasn’t present at Friday’s special meeting.

Presenting to the commission during the executive session was Craig Williams, third-party consultant with Blue Valley Communications, who was hired by the county.

“We as commissioners did not know who was hired,” Novak said.

Novak said it was revealed during the executive session that Williams’ company was closely associated with one of the companies being considered in the bidding process.

“That’s a conflict of interest,” Novak said.

Novak said she felt Williams provided inaccurate information about the bids to the commission. So she suggested the bids be disregarded until after the county’s budget process.

“In my personal opinion, it’s not only a conflict of interest, it’s very misleading,” Novak said. “All I want is transparency and to give all the bidders a fair and equal opportunity.”

Commissioner Randy Dallke disagreed with Novak.

He said the commission acted within the parameters provided by legal counsel.

“In my opinion, we did nothing wrong,” Dallke said. “We did exactly what we were supposed to do.”