Hearing to address recordings
A proposed ordinance, which would prohibit the recording or transmission of executive sessions held by the Forrest County Board of Supervisors, will be brought before the public during a hearing at 10 a.m. Monday, June 19. The hearing will be part of the board’s regular monthly meeting in the Paul B. Johnson Jr. Chancery Courthouse at 641 Main Str., Hattiesburg.
The proposal was brought to the forefront following the April 24, 2017, executive session of the Forrest County board, at which time the county’s election commissioners were meeting with the board.
Newly-elected District 1 election commissioner Tyler Wood was removed from the meeting after he admitted to recording the meeting, in his words, “so I can hear myself talk later today and hear what I needed to improve on, with how I placed my words.”
Wood wants to bring paper ballots back to the election process. He had posted an Facebook invitation to his constituents on April 18, “If you are for paper ballots, please come to the board of supervisors meeting that starts at 10.”
The Mississippi Code (Section 2-41-7) permits the board to enter into executive session for the transaction of public business concerning certain matters such as litigation, personnel and security issues.
The proposed ordinance would prohibit the use of audio, video, stenographic or any other recording devices during any executive session of the Board. The copying, distribution, publication, broadcast or any other transmission of any recording made in such a section would be a violation of Section 1 of the ordinance.
According to both state Attorney General Jim Hood and the board, the recording or transmission of executive sessions defeats the purpose of such session.
Also a part of the ordinance, the board of supervisors reserves all rights to regulate the presence and conduct of third parties during its executive sessions.
Violation of this ordinance would be considered a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of $500 for a first offense and by a fine of $1,000 for each second or subsequent offense.
If passed during the June 19 public hearing, the ordinance would go into effect 30 calendar days from its publication as a legal notice.
A Public Body may (but is not required to) go into executive session to discuss only the following:
• personnel matters
• litigation-prospective or actual
• security personnel, plans or devices
• investigations of alleged misconduct or violations of law
• emergency posing immediate or irrevocable harm to persons or property
• prospective purchases, sale or lease of lands
• preparation of admission tests for certain professions
• location, relocation or expansion of business or industry
• line item in budget which may affect termination of employee(s)
• certain school board discussions with individual students, parents or
• Legislature may go into executive session anytime