Just suppose you are a school board. And just suppose you are unhappy with your superintendent. I suppose you might decide to hold a closed meeting to talk about what to do about your superintendent. Okay so far.... And in the course of that discussion, someone on the board might move that the board vote to ask the superintendent to resign rather than be terminated. Most likely, if the board has reached that point, it's going to end up voting in favor of a resolution like that. Proper in a closed meeting? Yes, of course.
But then, a board member knows that a reporter in town (or maybe several reporters in town) are going to ask questions. As always, some of the board want the rest of the board to shut their mouths and not talk about the discussion that happened behind closed doors. Now let me be clear here .. I am not suggesting that such a discussion shouldn't take place behind closed doors. There are understandable reasons why a board might want to assert its right to hold a closed meeting for such purposes. After all, the superintendent might sue for libel over what was said about him/her at the meeting.
The problem arises when a board member moves that the board enact a new policy that no board member can talk about what happened in a closed meeting and a vote is taken in that closed meeting on that motion. That motion and vote are NOT related to the reason to hold the closed meeting -- exception 3, for hiring, firing, disciplining and promotion of an employee. That motion and vote should have been taken up in an open meeting.
And so, the board has just violated the sunshine law. It's that problem with "wandering." Boards who can't keep on track on the reason they are holding a closed meeting. Just know that when you wander, you may find yourself at the end of the road in a lawsuit for violation of the law!
Oh, while I'm writing, I probably should note that while I was busy with legislative and related matters, the blog passed its 4th birthday last week! It was started to give state legislators evidence of how often the law is violated. I've accomplished that purpose, without a doubt. Is the law any stronger than it was in 2006? Yes, somewhat. Do some public officials have a better understanding of the law? Perhaps. Are they more aware of the implications -- the penalties for violations? Perhaps. Have I angered folks with the blog? Definitely.
Is it worth it? Definitely.