There's lots of reasons you can argue why people make stupid mistakes. They forget. They just didn't think. But when you are a member of a board of aldermen, and you have dozens, maybe even hundreds (to hear certain municipal organizations talk about it) of opportunities to receive training in the sunshine law, how can stupid mistakes happen? Tom Durkin is putting thousands of miles on a car this year going around the state doing training for the Attorney General's office. By this time, he's probably been in your county. Did you not go? What excuse could someone possibly have?
Still, yesterday a reporter called. His board of aldermen recently held a closed meeting after an open meeting. nothing wrong with that, assuming it was properly noticed. The problem is that AFTER the closed meeting, then came back out into open session. There was no notice that additional open meeting matters would be taken up after the closed meeting on the agenda.
Oh, but there's more! Those additional items they discussed at the newly-reopened meeting? None of them were properly identified in the minutes as emergency items which would have allowed a violation of the notice requirement of the law. It didn't appear, to this reporter, like any of them were items that couldn't have waited until a proper notice was prepared, or couldn't have been foreseen as items that needed to go on the meeting agenda.
Clearly a violation of the sunshine law, it appears.
Actually, there's even more, but it's not a sunshine law violation -- one of the items was a motion to adjust the water bill of one of the aldermen -- to reduce it. Guess who added a vote to the tally? Yep, the alderman whose bill was being adjusted.
Nope, that's sure not a sunshine law violation. I don't deal with Ethics violations. I leave that to others at the state level. But I'd say a city like this is in dire need of some one-on-one training about a lot of issues. Where in the world do you start with folks like this?
Some of these principals, folks, are just common sense items. You don't need a college education to understand the sunshine law. The book published by the Attorney General's office is simple enough to understand, if you would just crack the cover!