Opinion

W.Va. law prevails when you meet on W.Va. soil

An editorial from the Mineral Daily News-Tribune
KEYSER, W.Va. — The Potomac Highlands Airport Authority continues to amaze us with their stand on which state law should prevail in their meetings.
Not only are they trying to “choose” which state law they follow, but tonight they are scheduled to talk about it behind closed doors.
Awhile back, when the group was in turmoil due to two members – one the chairman – who butted heads on an issue and finally both resigned, the common feeling among the members was that the group should operate under the Maryland Open Meetings Act.
In more recent weeks, when Del. Gary Howell requested a copy of the minutes of an executive session during which the future of the autocross event at the airport was discussed, he was again told the group operates under Maryland law and the minutes of the closed-door meeting would be sealed for a year before they would become public information.
To emphasize their decision, they later voted to operate under Maryland law.
We tend to agree with Del. Howell: How do you “decide” which laws are going to apply to you?
The Airport Authority is made up of four representatives of Mineral County, four representatives of Allegany County, and one from the City of Cumberland.
Add to that an attorney who is based in Cumberland, and it’s not hard to see why they are tending to lean toward Maryland’s way of doing things.
But here is a fact which they cannot deny – The Potomac Highlands Airport Authority oversees the operation of an airport which is located in Wiley Ford, West Virginia, and they therefore hold their meetings on West Virginia soil.
This should not be a difficult decision. In fact, it should be no decision at all.
It’s simple: West Virginia law prevails.
In addition, by choosing to discuss this issue in closed session, the authority is giving the impression – whether it is correct or not – that they have something to hide.
Thirdly, discussing policy does not fall under the legal reasons for executive sessions, according to the West Virginia Open Meetings Law.
The authority needs to keep its doors open and seriously reconsider their stand on the law.
They have done a disservice to themselves and their reputation and a disservice to the community, which has a great interest in the future of the autocross as well as other ongoing projects at the airport.

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