In late October, The Record-Courier reached out to the Attorney General’s Office with a simple question and got a simple answer.
We asked how many open meeting law complaints were filed to date against the Douglas County School Board in 2023. The answer was 46, which while a lot, didn’t seem out of the realm of possibility.
It’s pretty simple to file an open meeting law complaint. There’s a link to the form on the Attorney General’s web site and there are likely 46 people or more who might feel the need file a complaint.
We dutifully reported the number and moved on until December, when we asked for an update. It took a month to get a response, and when it finally came, the answer was 10.
The explanation was that the Attorney General’s Office received 46 emailed inquiries, not actual complaints. Of the 11 total complaints filed in 2023 related to the school board, 10 were to do with the open meeting law and one was a public integrity complaint.
The first of those, dealing with the selection of Susan Jansen as board president in January 2023, is still under review as of Jan. 12, 11 months after it was filed.
With Jansen replaced as president last week by David Burns, that whole complaint is pretty much moot, now. We get the feeling that’s how open meeting law complaints are resolved, generally. If you wait a year, then whatever happened at a meeting becomes irrelevant.
Meanwhile, a public records lawsuit filed in August to obtain trustees’ texts and emails from May is still pending in district court.
We believe in open and transparent government. We hope the people we elect, who swear to uphold both the U.S. and Nevada constitutions, do, too.
This is going to be a long election year, and we anticipate there will be more massive requests for records, or complaints dealing with ethics, open meetings, public integrity, and the like.
If there’s one thing we know from our long experience covering court, it’s that a complaint is not a conviction. Even if the attorney general weighed in on those 10 open meeting law complaints tomorrow, that’s an opinion, not a ruling. However, it would be nice if they wrapped up one or two before they become entirely irrelevant.