The Norman Transcript


March 15, 2013

City memo may have violated open meetings law



In addition to clarification, new information not previously introduced in executive session on possible pay adjustments is included in the memo.

“I asked our city attorney to review these recommendations and advise if he thought there were additional issues that should be considered,” the mayor says in the memo. “Attached to this memorandum are comparison calculations. I welcome your input.”

Input regarding calculations is tantamount to discussion. Because the memo went to the entire body of the city council, that equals a violation of open meeting laws. The last paragraph of the memo further requests discussion from the council: “Please review this information and then let me know what direction you would like to move.”

“That’s absolutely a violation of the open meeting act. She is a voting member of the council and she is asking not only for them to discuss it with her, but essentially to give her a vote,” Senat said.

“The issues that are discussed in that memo are the issues related to interpreting the direction in the salary increase,” Rosenthal said. “The information provides two ways of interpreting the guidance that came out of executive session.”

The council should have ended the closed executive session, then voted in public, as is standard procedure, Senat said.

“Why didn’t they come out of the executive session and vote to move forward or whatever they wanted to do?” he said. “That’s making a decision, and that’s doing it in front of the public. Right now, they can hide by saying, ‘I didn’t agree to that.’”

“As we do at the end of all the executive sessions, I announced that no actions were taken and no votes were cast,” she said. “Many things get put on the agenda without us voting. We were not at a point of making a decision. People were asking questions of what does this mean and how do the percentages apply, but there was no final decision made about the increase.”

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