On August 24, 2017 we provided a FOIA request to the City of Nauvoo FOIA officer via email. Since they had not been included in the response the City provided after the Attorney General opinion was received which told them they should do so. The request included:
- Meetings for Hotel Motel Board Meetings held April 3, 2012, April 9, 2012 and April 27, 2012.
- Audio recordings for these same meetings.
A response was received today, September 1, 2017 (dated August 30, 2017), via USMail. In their response, the City of Nauvoo failed to provide the requested documents and recordings, claiming they had previously been supplied on July 31, 2017. In the City’s July 31, 2017 letter, they addressed our previous request for “Nauvoo Hotel‐Motel Tax Board meeting audio records and minutes for 2012-2016” with a statement regarding “The agenda and minutes of the Hotel‐Motel Board’s open session meetings held on these dates: April 3, 23 & 27, 2012.” (emphasis added) No comment regarding additional “closed session” meetings was made, or any justification for excluding them.
The City has provided partial meeting minutes for April 3, 2012 and April 27, 2012, but has failed to provide any copies of any meetings for April 9, 2012. An email received from the Mayor, John McCarty on June 22, 2017 stated that these minutes had not been provided because “The April minutes included an April 3rd, 9th and 27th but these were executive sessions.” The FOIA Officer has not provided any justification for failing to provide any of the requested documents, other than the false statement that they already had been provided (in her most recent letter).
The stated reason for closing these sessions was that they included discussions related to hiring a Tourism Director. This position has consistently been described by the City as an “Independent Contractor,” and her contract identifies her as such. As we stated in a previous article, there is no exemption provided in the Open Meetings Act for closing a meeting to consider awarding a contract, or making the proceedings of such a meeting unavailable to the public.
In addition, if the City at the time had felt it was justified in closing the meeting, recordings were required to be made of these meetings. The Open Meetings Act and the Freedom of Information Act are very clear on what is required in order to conduct a meeting where the public is excluded. One requirement is that the meeting be recorded. The city stated in its most recent letter, that “There are no records responsive to your request for audio tapes…The meetings are not taped, so no tapes are available to reproduce.”
This continues the saga of withholding the content of these meetings, and how exactly the Tourism Director contractor was awarded. Considering that bids were not solicited, and have not been on any subsequent awards of the contract, we would like the public to have access to what transpired.
We have subitted a Request For Review to the Attorney General’s Office, and are confident that the result will be the same as the last request concerning this body.