The board of the University of Kentucky's Gluck Foundation apparently thinks it's above the law.
Over the advice of a lawyer and the well-founded objections of Herald-Leader reporter Janet Patton, the Gluck Foundation board went into closed session Tuesday.
The plan apparently was to question a UK dean's decision not to reappoint the chair of UK's veterinary science department who also serves as director of UK's Gluck Center for Equine Research.
The Gluck board is appointed by the UK trustees to serve as an interface with the horse industry. It is purely a creation of UK, a public university. And, indeed, no one has disputed that it's a public board subject to the state's open meetings and open records laws.
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The Gluck board voted to close the meeting under the law's exemption for "discussions or hearings which might lead to the appointment, discipline, or dismissal of an individual employee, member, or student."
The board has no authority to appoint, discipline or dismiss the director of the Gluck Center or anyone else. That authority rests with the agriculture dean and she had already made the decision not to reappoint Dr. Mats Troedsson.
But, despite hearing the relevant part of the law read aloud — the part that makes it clear this would be an illegal executive session — chairman Case Clay of Three Chimneys Farm and a majority of the members authorized an illegal closed session. It was done by voice vote; there was no roll call.
This was obviously a poor decision, one that merits changes in the Gluck board, although, sadly, the UK Board of Trustees and UK's administration have little standing to criticize.
They just engaged in a series of less-than-quorum meetings — also illegal under the open meetings law — to avoid discussing approval of UK's $3 billion budget in public.
Public boards may find it unpleasant, inconvenient, even distasteful, to discuss certain matters in public meetings.
But unless the discussion meets a few specific conditions spelled out in Kentucky's open meetings law, public boards cannot close their meetings to the public and media.
That's the law.