Officials must comply with Open Meetings Law

Published 12:00 am Thursday, May 17, 2007

From time to time, it is a good thing to give our elected officials – and the public – a reminder of the Alabama Open Meetings Law, passed in 2005.

There is a lot of information in that law, but here are a few key points.

First, meetings must be public.

This includes pre-arranged gatherings, meetings, including committee meetings, and those meetings that are not prearranged, but are held to &uot;deliberate specific matters that, at the time of the exchange, the participating members expect to come before the body … at a later date.&uot;

The only time a quorum can be together when it is not a public meeting is for social gatherings, training sessions or press conferences.

Second, a notice must be given of a public meeting. There are exceptions for emergency meetings, but even those require some notice in advance.

For city councils, notice must be placed &uot;on a bulletin board at a place convenient to the public in the city hall.&uot;

For school boards, &uot;notice must be placed on a bulletin board at a place convenient for public viewing in the central administrative office of the board.&uot;

Third, while some matters – such as personnel decisions – can be discussed in an executive session, the governmental body must vote to go into executive session.

The body must say why they are going into the executive session.

&uot;If the body goes into executive session to discuss privileged information, the body still must reconvene into an open meeting before voting on the ultimate issue discussed during the executive session,&uot; according to the law.

We trust that all of our elected officials are complying with the state’s Open Meetings Law.