One of the state's fair cities had a meeting of its city council in the last few days to discuss a budget issue. It was time to pass the budget for one of the city's departments, and what concerned city leaders was that they had recently fired the administrator of this department and were considering hiring another person.
So, the city sends out a meeting notice. It holds its budget discussion meeting and passes the budget. IN A CLOSED MEETING. And it documents this entire activity in its minutes.
Oops. A reporter calls to discuss this with me. The reporter tries to give the city an out. Perhaps the city was discussing hiring a new manager and the salary requirements that might be needed. But, no, it's clear when you read the law. Discussions of salary ranges are excluded from what can be closed. And since no individual candidate for the job was being discussed (and thus, no "personal information" about a person), the city council could not use that exception as a reason to discuss this in a closed meeting. In fact, the sunshine law makes it clear that a public body must segregate open subjects from closed subjects and only close the portion of the meeting where the properly-closed subject matter was being discussed, bringing the rest of the discussion into an open meeting.
City officials have an obligation to the citizens they represent to know better than to take an action like this. The state Attorney General's office conducts numerous training sessions for city officials. (Incidentally, I happen to know that brand new sunshine law books have been printed by the AG's office --- get online and request one if you haven't gotten one from them, folks!) Statewide associations for such groups conduct training. There's just no excuse for a public body to pull a stunt like this.
A citizen in the community called the newspaper to report this. When your citizens know more than city officials, that's a recipe for disaster, folks!