Somestimes I read something that a public official says and I am just stunned -- seriously, I could not make up facts that are as good as what I read...
In the Kansas City Star on Thursday, a reporter interviewscertain city council members. They've been considering hiring a new city official. Numerous candidates came in and were interviewed. Now, remmeber that interviewing candidates for a job is one of the specific reasons (see Section 610.021 (3) ) for which a closed meeting can be held. They call that "hiring," folks.
Did these folks hold a legitimate closed meeting to interview the candidates? No, of course not. Rather than do this correctly and give notice of a closed meeting, instead, they chose to engage in conduct that, according to case law dicta and according to former State Attorney General Jay Nixon, constitutes "wagon wheel" meetings -- a series of meetings held by fewer than a quorum done purposely to avoid gathering a quorum to discuss public business. The case that discussed that action contains language that indicates the court, if it knew such a plan was intended to circumvent holding a properly noticed meeting, would find that such an action was a violation of the state sunshine law.
And, just what did this public body give as its reason for engaging in this conduct? Let me read you the quote, directly from the paper...
"Council members met in two groups of three members each to meet with applicants," said the mayor of the city, whose name is redacted here to protect the obviously guilty. One of the city council members "chose to sit out the meetings so there would not be a quorum at any time," that poor, misled council member is quoted as saying.
In short, these "wagon-wheel" meetings were done with fewer than a quorum intentionally to circumvent the sunshine law. Just who is giving these folks legal advice? Here they had a clear route to hold a meeting, close it legitimately and not violate the sunshine law. Instead, they chose to intentionally violate the law.
Seriously! I couldn't make up stuff like this, folks. Knock knock, AG's office... are you listening?