San Marcos Mercury | Local News from San Marcos and Hays County, Texas

May 20th, 2008
Judge says public won’t be locked out of future public meetings

Managing Editor

Precautions will be taken to make sure the courthouse is not locked during future meetings of a committee appointed to vet transportation projects for an expected November bond election, Hays County Judge Elizabeth Sumter said today.

Chaired by San Marcos auto dealership owner Chuck Nash, the group met 6 p.m. Thursday for the first time to interview consulting firms to advise the panel. A reporter who arrived at the courthouse just before the meeting was to start found all the doors to the building locked. A committee member, San Marcos resident Donna Hill, was apparently locked out as well, Sumter said.

Sumter did not return multiple phone calls for comment Friday and Monday. Asked today in her courtroom if she was aware the building was locked during the committee’s meeting, she said, “It was unlocked until it was locked. … I don’t know who locked the doors but we will stand guard next time to make sure it doesn’t happen again.”

She said her office unlocked the building at about 5:30 p.m. and six of nine members made the meeting without incident. Hill arrived later and, after being admitted to the courthouse by an employee who was leaving, informed the judge, who said she was surprised to find the building secured.

The group heard presentations from two consulting groups vying for the contract to help assemble a package of new or expanded highways for voter consideration, according to minutes. Their next meeting is May 29.

As an advisory body, the committee is not necessarily subject to the state’s Open Meetings laws but the court has said it will abide by the spirit of so-called sunshine statutes.

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