Sometimes I find fascinating what folks who are members of public governmental bodies say about their meetings. Do they ever listen to themselves? It's one thing to argue they don't read the sunshine law to know what to do. But when they open their mouths and say one thing, when they argue they are doing another, well it's enough to make you wonder.
For example, a city council in the state has held a closed meeting to talk about a personnel issue. The issue relates to a city councilman. But you cannot close a meeting to discuss the actions of a member of the council, so in order to try to fit within an exception, the situation has been couched as a discussion of a matter involving an employee and the councilman.
"I cannot get into the facts of the situation obviously, but there was an employee issue brought to the attention of the Mayor ... that involved allegations regarding a councilman," is what they are saying. Okay, so are they discussing the employee in the closed meeting? Because, you'll remember, they can only close a meeting to discuss an employee matter if it is about one of four things -- Hiring, Firing, Disciplining or Promoting the employee.
"The purpose for bringing the matter to the council was for multiple purposes: first because it involved a city employee and a councilman, the mayor ... can reasonably address concerns regarding the employee but as an elected official, ha[s] no jurisdiction over an individual councilman. Hence the redress is that the matter be taken to the council as a whole which affords the ... councilman the opportunity to address the council body and for them to make what determinations they deem necessary or expedient," the city official said.
Sounds to me like they are talking about two things -- the concerns regarding the employee and the concerns regarding the councilman. If they really are planning to fire or discipline the employee, then that was proper for a closed meeting. Since the councilman is NOT an employee, the part about the councilman did NOT belong in closed session.
And the law is clear that "public governmental bodies shall not discuss any business in a closed meeting... which does not directly relate to the specific reason announced to justify the closed meeting...." Since the part about the councilman's actions cannot be discussed in closed session, the speaker here has just announced in public that the body has violated the law.
My Grandma always said God gave us two ears and one mouth for a reason. Sounds like this city official might want to think about closing that one mouth, after he or she has pulled his or her rather large foot out of it....