Q&A: Executive session or open meeting

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The following question came from The Republic (Columbus):

Question: The Columbus Commons Board, an entity charged with managing the public portions of the Commons Mall, has announced an executive session “for discussions on strategy with respect to the lease of real estate.” The Commons Board is about to decide which of two nonprofit agencies will receive the master lease for the public portions of the Commons Mall. The Commons Board now wants to discuss this decision in executive session. What are your thoughts on that?

Answer: The strategy exception in Indiana code is for situations where the governing body is attempting to purchase or lease the property from another party. A governing body needs to be able to protect the top price it’s willing to offer. When the governing body is the entity selling or leasing its property to someone else, strategy isn’t needed because state law prescribes how that process will work.

The Commons Board needs to discuss the options in an open meeting unless it can find a provision that would allow for an executive session.

Have a media law question for Stephen Key, HSPA executive director and general counsel? Contact him at skey@hspa.com or (317) 624-4427.

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