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Three Lincoln council members sit out first virtual meeting
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Three Lincoln council members sit out first virtual meeting

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Council meeting

Lincoln City Council Chair Jane Raybould leads the first virtual council meeting via videoconference Monday. Three council members who opposed meeting virtually sat out the meeting on the advice of City Attorney Jeff Kirkpatrick.

Three Lincoln City Council members didn't attend Monday's first virtual council meeting, saying their absences followed the advice of the city attorney. 

Members Roy Christensen, Bennie Shobe and Richard Meginnis had voted last week against a motion to meet via videoconference on April 20 and 27 rather than in person. 

City Attorney Jeff Kirkpatrick has said he and his staff had concluded holding a virtual meeting of the council wasn't legal under state open-meetings laws despite an executive order from Gov. Pete Ricketts allowing such meetings with proper notice and public accommodation.

At the outset of Monday's meeting, Council Chair Jane Raybould and Councilman James Michael Bowers said they felt the need to continue moving city business forward and not abdicating their duties.

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Raybould, Bowers and Councilwomen Tammy Ward and Sändra Washington each participated in the meeting via Zoom videoconference as several people testified during the one-hour meeting in the otherwise empty council chambers. 

Each has stated they believe holding in-person meetings runs counter to public health directives to avoid public gatherings and further risks public safety during the pandemic.

The four council members voted on and approved only one agenda item Monday, an amendment to the existing Waterford Estates annexation agreement to allow for the construction and funding of a roundabout at 104th and Holdrege streets. 

By contrast, Lancaster County commissioners will hold their third virtual meeting Tuesday, and to date, no members of the County Board have publicly objected to meeting that way.

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Reach the writer at 402-473-2657 or rjohnson@journalstar.com.

On Twitter @LJSRileyJohnson.

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