Q&A: Define organizational meeting

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From The Republic (Columbus):

Q: One of our reporters tried to get into a meeting of the executive board of the local visitors center and was told he couldn’t attend because it was an “organizational meeting.” The visitors center gets 80 percent of its funding from an innkeeper’s tax. The board had a regular meeting, which our reporter attended. The “organizational meeting” followed it. Are there any statutes that would prevent reporters from attending such meetings?

A: The answer rests with whether this board is subject to the Open Door Law or not. Eighty percent funding from a tax would lean the board toward adhering to the law.

But if the funding is based on a fee-for-services contract rather than a subsidy it might not to be under the scope of the law.

Was this entity or board created by local government action, or is it a creature of non-government groups like a chamber of commerce?

If the board isn’t subject to the Open Door Law, they control what’s open to the public and press and what’s closed.

If the board is subject to the Open Door Law the executive board as a committee of the governing body is also subject to the law.

In that case, an “organizational meeting” isn’t subject matter eligible for an executive session, and the meeting should be open to the public.

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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