NC Open Meetings Laws

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Topic review

Expand view Topic review: NC Open Meetings Laws

Re: NC Open Meetings Laws

Post by Scott L » Mon Nov 09, 2015 8:38 am

"All meetings of public bodies and decision-making by public bodies must be conducted openly to give meaning to the state’s official policy that government operations are the people’s business."

"The General Assembly has declared it to be the public policy of North Carolina that the hearings, deliberations and actions of public bodies be conducted publicly." (Deliberation is a process of thoughtfully weighing options, usually prior to voting.)

"Members of public bodies may not ... communicate through an intermediary – for example, in a series of telephone or other communications — to evade the spirit and purpose of the Open Meetings Law." ... -8-08.aspx

How well is our council respecting the Open Meetings Law? Take the recent "trucks on North Main" example at the August 10th council meeting. On the public record, our City Manager stated he required advice from City Council before taking any further action. In the September newsletter, our City Manager talked about having negotiations with local industry about a new strategy routing traffic via Hwy 16. No public record exists of how our City Manager received the strategic advice he required. The spirit and purpose of Open Meetings Laws is to keep these kinds of strategies and decisions in public view.

What SHOULD have been, is the August 10 meeting should been all the deliberation in public view -- in front of all the ~50 people who came to see just that! Instead, the issue was shut down and apparently there has been deliberation outside of the public view. Come on, public -- let's dig into this.

Re: NC Open Meetings Laws

Post by Scott L » Tue Sep 15, 2015 8:01 am

Sunshine Laws:

What’s an Official Meeting? A majority of the members, Gathering in person or electronically, To conduct a hearing, deliberate, vote, or otherwise conduct public business. “Deliberate” – can include gathering of information, as well as weighing and reflecting on the reasons for or against a decision.

Can email be an official meeting? IF communication about town business is virtually simultaneous (as in real-time texting or in email conversations through “reply all”) AND a majority of the public body participates … Courts likely to say this is a meeting in violation of Open Meetings Law.

Legal Consequences of Violation 1. Declaring that a violation occurred. 2. Prohibiting the city from future violations. 3. Invalidating actions taken. 4. Personal liability for attorneys’ fees if: Knowing/intentional violation, Not following attorney’s advice

(This is good public knowledge at least for the following reason: Do not write to your councilpersons addressing a single e-mail to them all. You would create a risk of them hitting reply-all and perhaps violating the open meetings laws. Instead send the e-mail to all of them separately or put them in the BCC field so a reply-all would only go back to you and not all the other members.)

Re: NC Open Meetings Laws

Post by Scott L » Tue Sep 15, 2015 7:56 am

Closed Session Rules:

14. What is the procedure for holding a closed session?
A public body may hold a closed session only if it first begins an open official meeting after proper public notice. During the open part of
the official meeting, the public body must make and adopt a motion to hold a closed session. In making the motion to hold a closed
session, the public body must state which of the legally acceptable purposes it is relying upon to justify the closed session.
N.C.G.S. § 143-318.11(a)

15. What are the permitted purposes for holding closed sessions?
The Open Meetings Law says that a public body may hold a closed session during one of its official meetings only when a closed session
is required to prevent public disclosure of the following seven types of information: legally confidential information, honorary degrees,
scholarships, prizes and awards, attorney-client discussions, location or expansion of businesses (including agreement on a tentative list
of economic development incentives that may be offered by the public body in negotiations), contract negotiations, certain personnel
matters, and criminal investigations.
N.C.G.S. § 143-318.11(a)

NC Open Meetings Laws

Post by Scott L » Wed Aug 12, 2015 10:22 am