Escorted! Per the Philipsburg Mail headline, July 9, 2014, Dick Motta was “escorted” from the Granite County Commissioners meeting. The meeting was scheduled to discuss the breach of the Flint Creek Hydroelectric Generating Contract. The contract has been breached for over a year and the Commissioners have failed to enforce the terms of the contract. The Montana Department of Revenue has determined that Roger Kirk, not Granite County, is the “beneficial owner” of the generating equipment and that personal property taxes will be levied beginning this fiscal year. The County asserted that it was the owner of the generating equipment, and therefore, no property taxes were levied in the previous fiscal year. In effect, the County Commissioners contracted for construction of the hydroelectric plant with terms that were not in the beneficial interest of Granite County taxpayers.
Since I was illegally “escorted” from the County Commissioners meeting by the Sheriff, based on the assertion of the Commissioners and County Attorney, it is time to remind public officials that they are conducting business of the Granite County “People” and that the “People” have not abdicated their sovereignty. Dismissing and removing a person from a public meeting, because public officials are confronted with a question not to their liking, or one for which the answer would be self incriminating, is not made legitimate because the Commissioners and County Attorney declare a person to be disruptive.
Per the Montana Constitution, Declaration of Rights, the People have the right to “Participate” and to “Know” about the conduct of public business. The Legislature expressed the “intent” that all public agencies conduct meetings openly. Per MCA 2-3-201, Legislative intent,
“The legislature finds and declares that public boards, commissions, councils, and other public agencies in this state exist to aid in the conduct of the peoples’ business. It is the intent of this part that actions and deliberations of all public agencies shall be conducted openly. The people of the state do not wish to abdicate their sovereignty to the agencies which serve them. Toward these ends, the provisions of the part shall be liberally construed.”
Other statutes deal with public policy manuals, publication of notice, conduct of the meetings, minutes and just about every other procedure that public agencies are required to comply with in the conduct of the public’s business. Granite County Commissioners do not have a public participation manual, do not publish notice in the newspaper, do not conduct all meetings openly and, in general, conduct meetings and business as though they were elected to rule by dictatorial decree. In the case of the Flint Creek Hydroelectric Plant, the contract was breached, the Commissioners have not enforced the terms of the contract, restricted funds were misappropriated for construction of the hydroelectric plant, the public was not afforded an opportunity to participate in the formulation of the contract and FERC license application. Granite County does not receive any of the electricity generated and taxes were not levied against the facility. The Commissioners should be “escorted” from public office for failure to serve the people in an open and beneficial manner. The County Attorney and Sheriff should review the statutes governing “open meetings” and be advised that they may be acting illegally complicit with the County Commissioners.
To the People of Granite County, the conduct of the County Commissioners has not been in your best interest. Remind the Commissioners, County Attorney and Sheriff that the People are sovereign, that the People have a Constitutional right to open meetings and that Montana statutes prescribe the procedures that public officials must follow in the conduct of the People’s business.