OpenCDA

April 2, 2016

Change in CdA Council Meeting Time?

Filed under: Probable Cause — Tags: — Bill @ 7:35 am

clockat515Citizens who pay attention to what the Coeur d’Alene City Council does will want to look carefully at the online agenda for the council meeting on April 5.  This agenda was retrieved at 7 AM on Saturday, April 2.

First, note the time-date line above agenda item ‘A’ shows that the meeting begins at 5:15 PM, not the usual 6 PM.

Second, note that agenda item ‘A’ and agenda item ‘M’ show the Council in Executive Session.  That is not a typographical error; the Council intends to hold two Executive Sessions during this meeting.    However, if the Agenda is followed as published, it will create a violation of Idaho’s Open Meetings Law.

The Open Meetings Law does not forbid multiple executive sessions in the same public meeting.  The Council is allowed to have more than one Executive Session as long as each is properly noticed on the council meeting agenda and convened only after passage of the statutorily required motion.

But the agenda published online and linked above shows that the first item of business at 5:15 p.m. will be conducted in Executive Session.  The next item of business after that would convene the public City Council meeting.  That would violate Idaho’s Open Meetings Law.

The Open Meetings Law absolutely requires that before going into Executive Session, the Council must first convene a properly announced public meeting, then during that meeting offer and pass a motion to go into Executive Session.  The Law forbids using an Executive Session “… for the purpose of taking any final action or making any final decision.”  Because the Executive Session motion results in a final action or final decision, it must be passed and memorialized in the minutes of the already-convened public meeting.

If Coeur d’Alene’s Mayor, City Council, City Administrator, City Clerk, and City Attorney care about following the Open Meetings Law, they need to amend the agenda as provided by the Law.  The agenda needs to be formally amended to simply reverse the position of agenda items ‘A’ and ‘B’.  The Tuesday, April 5, 2015, Coeur d’Alene City Council meeting needs to be convened in open session before the motion to go into Executive Session can be offered and passed.

2 Comments

  1. Thank you for noting this. I wonder about both the apparent violation of the Open Meeting Law (no doubt a clerical error,) and the change of time for convening the meeting. I cannot recall any meeting with a change in time.

    Comment by Susie Snedaker — April 2, 2016 @ 8:42 am

  2. Susie,

    Given the apparent brevity of the agenda without the item ‘A’ Executive Session, I also wonder why it was necessary to assemble the Gang of Seven 45 minutes before the customary time to convene the public meeting. Why not just amend the agenda to conform to the Law, then convene at the regularly-scheduled 6 PM with the first Executive Session as item ‘B’? Maybe we’ll find out Tuesday what this is about.

    Addendum on 04-03-2016: I am not willing to accept that this was merely a clerical error by the City Clerk. I am more inclined to think it was an attitude of indifference to the Idaho Open Meetings Law by Mayor Widmyer, City Administrator Hammond, Council President McEvers, City Attorney Gridley, and City Clerk McLeod.

    It is very unusual to have an Executive Session at 5:15 PM rather than simply scheduling it as the second agenda item during the regularly scheduled and properly announced Council meeting at 6 PM. It is lawful if properly announced and maybe in this instance necessary and appropriate. However, because it is so unusual and presumably necessarily urgent, I would expect each of the above-named officials to have paid very close attention to ensuring that it was done in complete conformity with the Idaho Open Meetings Law. That kind of attention to detail is their duty even if statutory indifference is their practice.

    Comment by Bill — April 2, 2016 @ 8:52 am

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