Q&A: Council members meet before taking office

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From the Sul­livan Daily Times:

Q: The Dugger Town Council election last fall brought in three new members, entirely replacing the old board. The new council members got together before January (not in a public meeting) and made a decision to fire a town employee, which was carried out in January.

Did they violate the Open Door Law? 

A: Prior to January, the three newly elected council members had not assumed their positions on the town board, so they were not subject to the Open Door Law at that time.

Their December or Novem­ber meeting was not a violation of the letter of the Open Door Law.

As to firing the individual, they would be required to vote on that termination at a public meeting.

If they did so, the action would be upheld by a judge if challenged on an Open Door Law violation.

If there was no public vote, the firing could be declared null and void if someone, including the terminated employee, decided to challenge the action.

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

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