The Augusta County Board of Supervisors quietly announced on Monday a special called meeting to take place on Wednesday night, and the agenda includes two items – a prayer and a resolution to “request certain public records.”
Hmmm, so, you have to wonder if the “certain public records” might be the recordings of two years of closed sessions in the possession of Wayne District Supervisor Scott Seaton.
The Board of Supervisors, at its meeting last week, requested that Seaton, who was the subject of a 6-1 censure vote over the recordings last month, turn over what he has.
“If it’s required, yes. But I’m not sharing with anybody, I’m not sharing them with just anybody. Only if it’s required by a judge,” Seaton said.
And while, no, a board resolution wouldn’t be a judge’s order, it would seem to be a step toward seeking one, if Seaton were to not comply, which, if you’re wagering, put your money on Seaton making the board take him to court.
It came to light that Seaton had been recording the board’s closed sessions, which is his right to do, per Virginia law, back in May, as Seaton and the rest of the board were in the middle of a contentious back-and-forth over fees assessed to local pet owners by the regional animal shelter that Seaton said have been handled by the county without supporting language in the county code for more than 20 years.
Seaton has said he has recorded the board’s closed sessions as a way of keeping notes on them, and he’s defended the practice by claiming that the recordings, which he has stored on his mobile phone, are more secure than handwritten notes that would be kept in a pen-and-paper notebook.
The recordings seem to be the key issue from Seaton’s colleagues on the Board of Supervisors, though the board’s chair, Michael Shull, brought up a claim that Seaton had “admitted going into the press leaking out about personnel,” and wondered aloud if Seaton had been “transmitting our conversations electronically,” claims that Seaton vehemently denied.
The board was set to vote last week on an amended resolution of censure to correct the dates of the closed meetings that it claims were leaked from the resolution that passed last month, but ended up having to table the new resolution amidst confusion over whether it was clear that the new resolution itself had the dates right.
This was the pretext to the request to Seaton that he turn the recordings over.
“If a judge says it’s required, I’ll be glad to give them up,” Seaton said.
This special called meeting with a prayer and an action item to request “certain public records” seems to be the next step for the board to try to get its hands on those recordings.