CLAYTON — A monthly meeting of the St. Louis County Jail Advisory Board, which was to include a discussion of a long-delayed external investigation into the facility, was canceled Friday, shortly after the county adviser’s office said a website error removed a public notice. Of the reunion.
An 8:37 a.m. email from an official with the Department of Justice Services office informed the Justice Services Advisory Board that the 9:00 a.m. meeting had been canceled at the direction of the county councilor’s office “due to the removal of the public notice of our website”.
“We believe this happened when County IT made changes to our website,” the email said. “We will reschedule as soon as possible. We are sorry for the inconvenience.”
Holding a public meeting without notice can trigger complaints of violations of open documents laws. Missouri’s Sunshine Law requires a public body to give at least 24 hours’ public notice before holding a meeting, although it does provide flexibility in emergency situations.
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Advisory board chairman Jeff Smith confirmed the cancellation and said the board was “working on the rescheduling as we speak.”
A public notice for the 9 a.m. meeting was visible on the county’s website beginning Thursday evening. But around 9 a.m. Friday, the meeting was not listed on the county’s website for public notices, which still posted notices for other public meetings as of Monday.
An email to the county councilor’s office triggered an auto-reply that the councilor was out of the office; one lawmaker did not respond to requests for comment.
Doug Moore, spokesman for County Executive Sam Page, referred questions to Charles Henderson, chief information officer. Henderson said he learned the advisory was down when prison warden Scott Anders emailed him around 9:30 a.m. asking for information about the public advisory.
Henderson said the public notice was mistakenly taken down not because of changes to the website, but because an IT employee who created the notice for the county’s website accidentally picked the wrong time of end for the meeting.
Instead of selecting an end time of Friday at 12 p.m., the employee had selected 12 p.m., Henderson said. This killed the public notice at midnight, rather than the scheduled end time of noon, three hours after the meeting began.
The county is pre-selecting end times for public notices so they don’t remain open after the associated meeting ends, Henderson said. The employee, Henderson said, had previously created public notices for the website.
But it was apparently the first time such an error had occurred, he said. Other public notices were not affected.
“It was a clerical error,” Henderson said. “It happens.”
Friday’s meeting agenda included an update on an external audit of the facility by CGL Companies, a contractor the county hired in November under a long-delayed request for an investigation by a third on prison.
The Post-Dispatch reported Thursday that the county denied a CGL request for medical records of inmates who died of health complications, frustrating some council members.
The advisory board had been pushing the investigation since August 2020, when a former prison warden hired to reform the facility after the deaths of four inmates in 2019 ended up resigning over allegations of misconduct.
And some council members said Thursday they had recently learned that the county’s contract with CGL did not include the council’s initial request to investigate inmate deaths. Smith had said he expected the board’s questions about the investigation to be discussed at Friday’s meeting.
The advisory board was also expected to discuss new efforts to shorten the length of incarceration for inmates with mental health issues, an upcoming job fair and a recruiting effort to increase the number of women in prisons. leadership positions in the department.
In follow-up emails seen by a reporter, some members of the six-person prison advisory board expressed disappointment at the sudden cancellation of their monthly meeting and said it might be difficult to schedule a date. followed until mid-April.