A city noticed up a closed meeting a day or so ago. The local paper, curious about what was to be discussed, pursued this, attempting to find out exactly what subject was going to be raised.
It turned out that the city intended to discuss potential fines for animal-related ordinances, the reporter was told. And what exception allowed this discussion to take place in a closed meeting, the reporter asked?
The litigation exception, they responded. This was a legal matter, they said.
Seriously? There is absolutely no basis to argue that someone is planning litigation over the process of establishing these finds, it is clear. Was the city planning to get legal advice from its attorney in setting these fines?
I suppose if the latter was the basis for closing these meetings, there might be a slim chance of making a valid argument for this closure. Had they been discussing what case law existed for making certain breeds of dogs prohibited, there might be a stronger argument for a closed meeting. But it seems highly unlikely that real legal advice was involved in this process. And certainly, if the city attorney was not sitting in on the meeting, the bare minimum of a legal basis for closure disappears.
If all this body is doing is setting dollar figures for fines, there is no reason that discussion belongs behind closed doors. There are valid reasons foe closed meetings. This isn't one of them.