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Atrazine lawsuit update: Attorney finds no violations

Associations contest findings

Managing editor

Marion County Attorney Susan Robson said she does not believe there was a violation by the City of Hillsboro or the City of Marion regarding an open meeting complaint filed by Kansas Corn Growers Association and Kansas Grain Sorghum Producers Association.

She also said she did not believe there was an open records violation with the City of Hillsboro.

After sending her findings via a letter to the associations’ executive director, Jere White, he said he did not agree with her findings and will ask the Kansas Attorney General’s office to review.

“The association’s attorney believes they were in violation because the City of Marion was the ‘public’ and should not be included in attorney-client privilege,” White said, referring to the executive session between the two cities.

The agriculture group alleges violations were committed by the cities of Marion and Hillsboro regarding the Kansas Open Meetings Act when the two entities met in executive session to discuss attorney-client privilege information. Later, both cities voted in open session to join the lawsuit being initiated by the Dallas law firms, Baron & Budd P.C. and Korein Tillery.

After nearly a month of efforts, the associations said they have received information used by the Marion and Hillsboro city councils when they joined a lawsuit against the makers of herbicide, atrazine.

Despite receiving the documents April 23, the associations want the county attorney to continue the investigation.

“We began requesting these materials nearly a month ago, and we were ignored until we asked for an investigation by the county attorney,” White said. “I know for a fact Hillsboro was not compliant.”

The growers associations are hoping other communities that are contacted make better-informed decisions on the atrazine lawsuit.

“We are trying to let other communities know about this issue so they can make informed decisions whether to join the lawsuit, urging them to talk to experts at EPA or Kansas Department of Health and Environment who understand the drinking water standards,” he said.

Robson said she would look further into the allegations.

“I told her (Robson) that unless some acknowledgment about the compliance was met, we will file something in district court ourselves,” White said. “We were denied what we were entitled to under the open records act … and it shouldn’t take an inquiry from the county attorney to get the information…”

Last modified April 29, 2009

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