Updates on cases, laws, and other topics of interest to local governments

Subscribe by Email

Enter your Email:
Preview | Powered by FeedBlitz

Subscribe in a Reader

Follow Municipal Minute on Twitter


Blog comments do not reflect the views or opinions of the Author or Ancel Glink. Some of the content may be considered attorney advertising material under the applicable rules of certain states. Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome. Please read our full disclaimer

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Board Violated OMA By Discussing Member's Conduct in Closed Session

The PAC issued its 13th opinion in 2017 last week, finding a public body in violation of the Open Meetings Act. In PAC Op. 17-013, the local chapter of the NAACP filed a complaint with the PAC alleging that a Village Board improperly went into closed session to discuss a Board member's racists  comments made at a previous Board meeting. 

In reviewing the minutes of the meeting in question, the PAC noted that the Village Board had cited 2(c)(4) of the OMA as the basis for going into closed session. That exception allows a public body to go into closed session to discuss "[e]vidence or testimony presented in open hearing, or in closed hearing where specifically authorized by law" by quasi-adjudicative bodies. The PAC also reviewed the verbatim recording of the closed session, which consisted of discussions by the Board of a resolution relating to comments by one of its members.

The PAC concluded that the closed session did not fall under 2(c)(4) for several reasons. First, the Board did not consider evidence or testimony in closed session. Second, the Village Board's discussion of one of its members conduct was as a legislative body, not a quasi-adjudicative body. Third, the Village Board was not authorized by law to conduct a hearing on the allegations against one of its members, which were not a matter subject to any adjudicatory or quasi-adjudicatory process. In short, the PAC determined that 2(c)(4) did not authorize the Village Board to go into closed session to discuss the conduct of one of its members.

The PAC also discussed whether 2(c)(1) or 2(c)(3) would apply, although neither of these exemptions were cited by the Village Board in going into closed session. The PAC noted that Board members are not employees of the Village, so 2(c)(1) was not applicable. Further, the PAC stated that 2(c)(3) would not provide a basis for the closed session because a Village Board does not have the power to remove one of its members from office, in the PAC's opinion.

As a remedy, the PAC ordered the public body to release the verbatim recording of the closed session.

Post Authored by Julie Tappendorf


Post a Comment