Housing Authority scraps interview, sets regular meeting UPDATE | Arkansas Blog

Monday, April 15, 2019

Housing Authority scraps interview, sets regular meeting UPDATE

Posted By on Mon, Apr 15, 2019 at 7:18 AM

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The question for today: Can the board of the Metropolitan Housing Alliance of Little Rock meet today without earning a page one Democrat-Gazette headline tomorrow for, if not skirting, outright violating the Freedom of Information Act?

The housing authority has been interviewing candidates to be the agency's next director. In the process, it hasn't followed the legal process for conducting such sessions. You must meet in public, vote to go into executive session and, if any decisions are reached, act in public session. Typical of recent events is Ginny Monk's account in the D-G of a meeting Friday, which included the unexplained abrupt resignation of the agency's interim director.

Today, the authority had been scheduled to interview the third of three finalists for the director's job. Sunday, the agency announced the scheduled 10 a.m. interview had been cancelled, but a monthly board meeting would be held at 4 p.m.

Might that mean that a candidate has been selected from two previous interviews? They are Nadine Jarmon of Deerfield Beach, Fla., and Kimberly Adams of Houston, fired from a city of Little Rock job in 2018.

Who knows?

Another good question:

How much of the meeting will be conducted in public?

The housing authority board fills its own seats, subject to confirmation by the Little Rock City Board. Recent years have been plagued with problems of various sorts, including resistance to complying with open records requests from the Democrat-Gazette. The agency manages public housing projects and federal rent subsidy programs.

UPDATE: I've learned that the authority board is relying on a 1994 attorney general's opinion about a school board meeting in an arbitration to defend its behavior in this instance. The argument is absurd: Since staff arranged the interviews, it's a meeting called by a third party, not the board itself, and thus they are exempt from the law. This, of course, would allow any public board anywhere or anytime to use the artifice of having a staff member call a meeting to which the board happened to be invited as an artifice to avoid the law.

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