State offices react to trustees

A staff attorney for Indiana's public access counselor said Wednesday that recent concerns about the board of trustees' executive sessions are "worrisome," but added that proving a violation of the Indiana Open Door Law is not easy.

"It's very difficult to make a determination one way or the other," said Sandra Barger, staff attorney for the public access counselor. "When you have different people saying different things it's difficult to do unless you have a smoking gun."

Barger was particularly concerned about the allegation that Trustee President Thomas DeWeese ends each meeting by asking if anyone has something to discuss.

"They can not discuss anything without posting it in public notice," Barger said.

However, Barger said she would not look into the matter, unless someone asked her office to, or filed a complaint.

Joe Losco, president of the Indiana chapter of the American Association of University Professors, said his organization would look at its options and consider what steps to take. Losco, who also serves as chairman of the political science department, said he was very concerned about the alleged misconduct.

Earlier this semester Melanie Scott, the student member of the Board of Trustees, told the Daily News that the trustees had discussed different proposals in executive session, in violation of the Open Door Law. Other trustees and administrators said they could not remember such conversations taking place.

"She seems pretty adamant," Barger said of Scott, after reading the Daily News article. "And the trustees didn't deny -- they just said they didn't remember."

Mary Dieter, press secretary for Gov. Frank O'Bannon, said the governor is a strong supporter of the Open Door Law, and expects all his appointees to follow it. At the same time, Dieter said her office could not opine on whether the trustees had broken the law.

"I would encourage anyone whose concerned to contact the public access counselor's office," she said.


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