Q&A: Vague meeting agendas

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From The Reporter-Times (Martinsville):

Q: A local government unit releases meeting agendas that say there may or may not be a meeting after an executive session. Is this legal?

At the last meeting, the members came out of an executive session and decided to convene a regular session, which they advertised in a similar fashion. At the public meeting, they said, “Let’s approve the memo we discussed.” I’m sure it was personnel related, but it doesn’t smell right to me. Did they operate correctly under the Open Door Law?  

A: I can’t say the notice is improper, although I would recommend they just announce the public meeting. After they start the meeting, they can quickly adjourn it if they have no business.

As to approving the memo, they can’t vote on something by agenda item only.

The public has a right to know the gist of an action taken. You could ask for a copy of the final action taken.

If a disciplinary action is a demotion, suspension or termination, you have the right to inspect or copy documents in a personnel file regarding the discipline and documents that support the factual basis for 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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