I heard two stories in the last week about two towns on the eastern side of the state where the
city councils have made some amazingly bad calls in regard to the Sunshine law. Again, these
are situations where if someone just opened the lawbook and read the law, we wouldn't have
these kinds of troubles.
In the first case, a town held an hour-long closed discussion to decide whether to buy a golf
course. But the rest of the story is that the city already held an option on the ground, so no
other bidders were involved and the owner wanted to sell the land to the city. Price apparently
was NOT an issue.
Inasmuch as they were apparently NOT negotiating over the price, according to the details I've
heard, the city's attorney should have seen the language in exception 2 (the real estate
exception of 610.021) that says where public knowledge of the transaction might adversely
affect the legal consideration therefor. Based on these facts, there was no reason this discussion
should have taken place in closed session.
The second case, which, incidentally involved the same newspaper, was another nearby city that
closed a meeting to discuss a revitalization proposal for a primary city thoroughfare. They gave
as their reason for closure exception 11: specifications for competitive bidding...
But there weren't bidders on this project. And there wasn't a proposal being presented for bids.
Instead, the city had already selected these folks to do the project and just wanted to talk about
the concept and potential options of the project.
Don't these cities have city attorneys? Don't those attorneys even crack the cover of the Attorney
General's handbook they all receive?
Maybe they just can't read....