Time passes, and members of public bodies change. And the same mistakes get repeated over and over. I try to give the benefit of the doubt to new members, at least for a short while, as folks need to get the law read and absorbed. (Somehow, I suspect that is never a priority, or at least it's not as important as locating your office and figuring our how much of the public budget is yours to spend freely.)
But what amazes me is that there can be a problem with the law, and then steps are taken to try and fix the problem; language in the law gets modified and legislators pass the bill, taking credit for solving the problem; but then you find a bit later that the problem still exists.
For example, Section 610.022 (3) originally only spoke about closing a meeting to discuss just the subject that was to be discussed in the closed meeting. In 1998, a sentence was added to this part of the statute saying "Public governmental bodies holding a closed meeting shall close only an existing portion of the meeting facility necessary to house the members of the public governmenttal body in the closed session, allowing members of the public to remain to attend any subsequent open session held by the public governmental body following the closed session."
I happen to know the impetus for this sentence. Reporters in Misssouri in small towns were being thrown outside of small meeting locations and forced to wait in the rain and the snow for the closed meetings to end. Sometimes large crowds of citizens were forced outside to wait with them. It became a challenge to see if you could suffer long enough in the weather for the members of the body to give up and let you back inside.
And then, today I get a call from another reporter -- their board of aldermen are meeting in the local fire station meeting room. They normally go out to the bay area for closed meetings. But last night, they threw the citizens outside. The citizens should be glad, I suppose, that it's August and not January.
But there's no excuse at this point for that kind of behavior. If the aldermen know enough to know they have to give notice of a closed meeting, they should also know that the law is specific that "Each meeting shall be held at a place reasonably accessible to the public and of sufficient size to accommodate the anticipated attendance by members of the public...." (Section 610.020.2.) And I think it's clear that when the law says they shall close only an existing portion of the meeting facility necessary to house the members of the public governmental body in the closed session," that doesn't mean they are allowed to throw the public outside the building.
Sweaters and raincoats are not mandatory for attending meetings of public bodies at this point, and, apparently, certainly not sunglasses, either because the sunshine isn't THAT bright in the state....