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Commission denies sheriff's request to appear at meetings

April 15, 2005|by CANDICE BOSELY

martinsburg@herald-mail.com

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - Sheriff Randy Smith cannot appear before the Berkeley County Commission every week to give them updates because he does not plan to specify in advance exactly what topics will be broached, the commissioners said Thursday.

More than a week ago, Smith sent the commission a memo asking that he be allowed to appear at the commissioners' meeting each Thursday at 11:50 a.m. He said he would discuss law enforcement issues, updates and hiring recommendations.

For his first two years in office, he was allowed to appear each week, Smith said.

"This kept the public and County Commission (apprised) of current issues with the Sheriff's Office and would allow time to address issues that may come up unexpected and may have to be dealt with in an expedient (manner)," Smith wrote.

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He did not attend Thursday's meeting.

Commissioner Howard Strauss said he opposed the idea because members of the public would not know what was to be discussed. Also, he said, votes cannot be taken on matters that are not specifically described on the commission's meeting agenda.

Commissioners Steve Teufel and Ron Collins agreed. Teufel added that if Smith is allowed to appear regularly, other elected officials might follow suit.

The decision marked the second time such a request from Smith has been denied.

In July 2003, Smith made the same request.

At the time, Smith and Strauss got into a near-shouting match over that and other matters.

Strauss said that the sheriff was doing nothing more than holding "press conferences" every week on issues of which the commission had not been apprised.

Anything can happen, Smith argued at that time, between Monday - when the agenda is prepared - and the Thursday meeting.

Strauss, though, called it "a slap in the face" and "poor planning" to discuss issues not on the agenda.

"It seems like you're the king and I'm the court jester," Smith told Strauss at one point during the 2003 argument.

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