Q&A: Legal meeting


From the Carroll County Comet (Delphi):

Q: The city of Delphi board of works scheduled a hearing to address a nuisance property in town with the property owner and the tenant. The hearing was scheduled for 3:30 p.m. When the reporter arrived at the city building at 3 p.m., all of the parties, including two of the three board of works members, were in the mayor’s office discussing and negotiating.

When the mayor saw the reporter, he emerged from the meeting and said there was nothing improper about two board of works members meeting with the parties prior to the hearing because they were not making any decisions about how to resolve the situation. Am I correct to think that the meeting was a violation of the Open Door Law?

A: You don’t have to have a decision made to have a meeting. Receiving information by a governing board is official action.

If you have a quorum taking official action then you have a meeting. Two of three board members receiving information about possible solutions to the problem would be a meeting under the Open Door Law.

Based on what you’ve told me, I’d say the mayor was incorrect and the board of works was in violation of the Open Door Law.

Contact Steve Key, HSPA executive director and general counsel, with media law questions at skey@hspa.com or (317) 624-4427.