Posts Tagged ‘open meetings’

Public Meetings After the Lifting of the State-Level State of Emergency

Tuesday, July 6th, 2021

In May of 2020, early in the pandemic, the legislature enacted a new law setting out provisions for remote meetings during a state-level state of emergency. See my blog post here, to see a review the statute, and my blog post here, to see a summary of the recent clarifying amendments to the new law […]

Clarification of Rules for Remote Meetings Under State Level State of Emergency: No More Waiting 24 Hours After Public Hearings!

Friday, June 18th, 2021

At the beginning of the pandemic, a new statute regarding remote meetings– GS 166A-19.24— provided a roadmap for managing government business. Public officials have learned so much about how to do things differently. Shout out to all of you who have pivoted in so many new directions, to keep people safe and healthy, and keep […]

What are “Full and Accurate” Minutes?

Tuesday, January 22nd, 2019

The open meetings law mandates that public bodies keep “full and accurate” minutes of their official meetings. G.S. 143-318.10(e). Separate statutes expressly require “full and accurate” minutes for meetings of city councils and boards of county commissioners. G.S. 153A-42 (boards of county commissioners); 160A-72 (city councils). The School of Government recently published a Local Government Law […]

Open Meetings Book: New Edition Now Available

Friday, March 10th, 2017

Can the board of county commissioners meet in closed session to discuss the performance of the elected sheriff or register of deeds? The open meetings law allows a public body to meet in closed session to talk about employees. But are these elected officials considered to be employees? The county commissioners have no authority to […]

Board Majorities Attending External Events or Meetings: When is Notice Required?

Monday, August 15th, 2016

Three (of five) board members walk into a bar…. Sounds like the beginning of a joke, right? In fact it’s the beginning of a frequently asked legal question. Stated more broadly the question is whether the mere presence of a majority of a public body in the same place at the same time always constitutes […]

When Board Members Won’t Talk Back

Friday, March 27th, 2015

Jean Jett has been waiting all month for the regular public comment period at the city council meeting. She signed up to speak, and after waiting her turn, she stands at the podium facing the council members and says, “I am here on behalf of the musicians in town, and we want to know why […]

What’s a Public Body?

Tuesday, February 3rd, 2015

North Carolina’s Open Meetings Law requires all official meetings of public bodies to be open to the public (unless the public body has specific statutory authority to meet in closed session). Think about whether the groups described in the following scenarios constitute public bodies: 1) For the past two years, a group of local officials […]

Statutory Permission to Take Up Items Not on the Special Meeting Notice

Monday, January 26th, 2015

The Mayor of Transparent City has called a special meeting to allow the city council to designate an interim manager following the former manager’s unexpected departure. In accordance with the open meetings law, the clerk posts a notice stating the time, location, and purpose of the meeting on the council’s bulletin board 48 hours before […]

Polling the Board

Wednesday, December 3rd, 2014

Consider three scenarios involving polling an elected governing board: 1. The city manager has determined that it is time for new leadership in the HR department. She contacts each of the council members to find out if they approve firing the HR director. 2. The chair of the county commissioners has negotiated a good price […]

Who Has Access to Applicant Information?

Thursday, June 5th, 2014

Under North Carolina law, records containing information about applicants for local government jobs are confidential. Of course, employees and officials of the local government itself may view applicant information. This blog explores who, within the unit of government, can have access to employee information, and who may participate in closed sessions involving applicant information.

Quick-Reference Guide for Closed Sessions

Thursday, March 13th, 2014

The North Carolina open meetings law requires most official meetings of public bodies to be open to the public. The law also lists nine permitted purposes for meeting in closed session. It sets rules for announcing and conducting closed sessions, and cases have interpreted these provisions, providing additional guidance. This blog post outlines the general […]

Who May Attend a Closed Session?

Thursday, November 21st, 2013

Two new members have been elected to the Pleasantville town council and are scheduled to be sworn in at the December meeting. A special meeting has been called for November 25, at which the current board plans to address several matters in closed session. As set out in the meeting notice, those matters are: Discussion […]

Remote Participation in Meetings

Tuesday, August 20th, 2013

A local government board member will not be able to attend an upcoming meeting. Can she participate by calling in? Regular blog followers may recall that I have written  several posts on this topic. With the benefit of your comments and some additional research, I’ve replaced those blog posts with a Local Government Law Bulletin […]

Can the Board Take Action in a Workshop Meeting?

Wednesday, July 10th, 2013

A newly elected local government board member is attending an orientation session. Her hand shoots up. “One thing I’ve always been confused about is whether or not it’s legal for a board to take action in a workshop or retreat meeting.” All eyes turn to the board attorney for an answer. “That’s a great question,” […]

Criticizing Public Employees in Public

Wednesday, February 6th, 2013

An incident involving the police department has riled up the citizens. The manager and the police chief are coming under heavy criticism. Several people have signed up to speak at the regular public comment period at the next council meeting and have indicated that they will speak about “the need for the firing of the […]

Can the Board Go Into a Closed Session to Deliberate a Quasi-Judicial Decision?

Wednesday, January 16th, 2013

The board of adjustment is hearing a hotly contested appeal.  The zoning administrator interpreted a somewhat ambiguous provision in the zoning ordinance to allow a controversial land use.  Irate neighbors appealed that determination to the board of adjustment.  The case quickly turned into one of the hottest land use disputes in recent town’s history, garnering […]

Closed Session Minutes and General Accounts Under the Public Records Law

Wednesday, July 25th, 2012

North Carolina’s open meetings and public records laws contain the core transparency requirements for local governments. They’re so often considered together that they can be thought of as first cousins, or even siblings. But they’re not twins, and the North Carolina Supreme Court has made clear that their requirements must be considered independently.  (“The Public […]

A Road Trip, a Parking Lot Conversation, and a Site Visit: Are These Illegal Meetings?

Thursday, April 19th, 2012

A North Carolina county board of elections, which has three members, is scheduled to meet with representatives of the State Board of Elections in Raleigh. May they legally travel together in one car to the meeting? Three members of a five-member town council are seen conversing in the parking lot after a board meeting. Are […]

Canceling and Rescheduling Meetings

Wednesday, January 11th, 2012

Sometimes there just aren’t enough board members to have a meeting. Suppose that a clerk for a North Carolina city or county learns in advance of a meeting that several governing board members have conflicts and will not be able to attend. There won’t be a quorum without these members. What should be done?  What […]

Open Meetings and the Public’s Right to Speak

Wednesday, November 16th, 2011

North Carolina’s open meetings law creates a broad public right of access to meetings of public bodies by requiring notice of most kinds of meetings, and allowing anyone to attend them. Do those who attend have a guaranteed right to speak at these meetings?  The answer is “no.”  The open meetings law itself does not […]

When Do Government Transparency Laws Apply to Private Entities?

Wednesday, June 1st, 2011

A city contracts with a private company to collect solid waste within the city. If not for this contract, city employees would carry out this function. The only connection between the city and the company is the contract. It’s a small company and the contract accounts for a significant portion of its revenue. Is the […]

Self-Executing Constitutional Provisions

Wednesday, March 23rd, 2011

This session, legislators have introduced bills (House Bill 87, Senate Bill 67) proposing to amend the North Carolina Constitution to create a right of access to public records, and to require that all meetings of public bodies be open. The law preserves existing provisions of law dealing with these subjects, and creates additional requirements for future […]

Open Meetings and Confidential Taxpayer Information

Thursday, November 11th, 2010

What happens when the open meetings requirement clashes with the obligation to keep taxpayer income information confidential? This conflict most commonly involves county boards of equalization and review, but the issue could easily arise at the city level as well with privilege license taxes or occupancy taxes.