HUSTONVILLE — Hustonville City Council has passed first readings of five ordinances aimed at curtailing certain behaviors within city limits, but the city has refused to release the text of the ordinances to the public.
The ordinances were read aloud by Mayor Marc Spivey at the city's Aug. 7 regularly scheduled meeting.
Ordinances 54 and 55 would impose fines for jaywalking and parking illegally, respectively.
Ordinance 56 would make "shielding of a person's face to where the person cannot be recognized or identified" illegal within city limits unless the outside temperature is cold enough that face protection is needed. There is also an exception for children 15 and under to wear costumes during trick or treat, Spivey said.
"I don't think adults need to be walking in our city with masks on," he said. "Something could happen and we could not make a positive identification in the commission of a crime."
Ordinance 57, which Spivey said concerned "crowd control," would ban "formation of any type of line and/or congregating on the sidewalks, streets or any other public property."
"I don't feel that they need to have this type (of thing) going on," Spivey said.
Ordinance 58 would ban littering within city limits.
Based on Spivey's readings, the littering ordinance includes language that would prohibit people from driving vehicles in Hustonville that "deposit upon the streets or any other public area within city limits, mud, dirt, sticky substances, litter, or foreign materials — foreign matter of any kind."
Anyone violating the jaywalking or parking ordinances would be subject to a $50 fine, Spivey said. Anyone violating the face-shielding or crowd-control ordinances could be charged $100, and a violation of the littering ordinance would cost $500, he said.
Spivey said he initially put a $1,000 fine in the crowd-control ordinance for anyone who was blamed for causing people to congregate, but was told by City Attorney Carol Hill the city couldn't legally impose a fine greater than $500 for the offense.
The full text and further details about the ordinances are not currently available from the city because it refuses to release the ordinances to the public.
A verbal request by the Interior Journal after the city council meeting for copies of the ordinances was denied by City Attorney Carol Hill, who said despite the ordinances passing first readings that they were still "preliminary documents."
The Interior Journal filed an open records request for the ordinances with City Clerk Rita Clem on Aug. 8. In a response dated Aug. 10 and signed by Clem, the city denied the open records request because "the open records act only governs access to the existing records and not to records that will be created in the future."
The Interior Journal is appealing the denial to the Kentucky Attorney General.
Kentucky Press Association Attorney Jeremy Rogers, who specializes in open meetings and open records law, said there's no question ordinances that pass first reading are open record. The whole point of having first and second readings is so the public has a chance to review ordinances before they become law, he said.
"I think that's just flat wrong," Rogers said of Hustonville's refusal to provide the ordinances. "There's nothing preliminary or private or secret about it. They've read it in an open meeting."
Rogers said Hustonville's argument that the ordinances do not exist doesn't make any sense because they have all already received first readings.
"It's a lie that cannot possibly be true," he said. "If they had a first reading of a proposed ordinance, then it must exist."