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Prattville Library Board formally denies violating Open Meetings Act

The library board of trustees Friday denied violating the Open Meetings Act.

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The Autauga-Prattville Public Library board of trustees Friday denied violating the Open Meetings Act through a series of court filings.

Former director Andrew Foster filed suit earlier this month, saying the board violated the act four different ways during the meeting in which the board terminated his employment.

He also levied another charge of violating the act when it named Tammy Bear as interim director two days later.

The new court filings don’t give much detail—they are simply a running list of which parts of Foster’s complaint the board admits to and which parts it denies. No explanation is given.

APR reached out to attorneys on both sides for comment but did not receive a response before publishing time.

Bryan Taylor, former counsel to Gov. Kay Ivey and the Alabama Republican Party, is representing the board as attorney Laura Clark has a conflict of interest in the case. 

The filings deny every allegation of the board violating the Open Meetings Act.

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They even deny the allegation made by Foster that the board’s motion to enter executive session lacked a stated purpose.

Video of the meeting confirms, however, that Vice Chair Rachel Daniels moved to enter executive session without stating any purpose for the session.

Under the Open Meetings Act, a “majority of members of the governmental body must adopt, by recorded vote, a motion calling for the executive session and setting forth the purpose of the executive session.”

This is the only alleged violation that took place in the public eye. 

Foster also alleges in the suit that the board improperly discussed his “job performance” in the executive session rather than his good name and character. Foster is in a class of public employees that requires job performance to he discussed in open meeting.

Foster said the board immediately gave him the option to either resign or be terminated upon entering the executive session. He also recorded the very beginning of the session before being told to stop because it violated the law. 

Following the board meeting, members of the press were provided a pre-typed statement from the board that included a handwritten update scrawled in pen.

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That pre-written statement is further evidence, Foster contends, that the board had predetermined the actions to be taken at the meeting either through an illegal meeting or through serial meetings. 

The suit also charges that the board violated the law’s requirement for a minimum of 24-hours notice of a special meeting when it hired Tammy Bear. Clark has since argued that the meeting was actually an “emergency meeting,” which only requires one-hour notice.

“Mrs. Clark appears to have concocted a post-hoc emergency to rationalize the board’s clear violation of the OMA’s twenty-four hour minimum notice requirement,” wrote Chris Weller, Foster’s attorney, in a letter demanding Foster’s reinstatement ahead of the litigation.

No hearing date has yet been set for the court action to move forward.

Jacob Holmes is a reporter at the Alabama Political Reporter. You can reach him at [email protected]

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