Unfortunately, in spite of the AG Opinion provided on July 20, 2017, the City of Nauvoo still has not provided access to some documents. They had 30 days to do so. Among the still missing documents are multiple Hotel Motel Meeting Minutes from April, 2012. These are sessions relating to the review of candidates, and decision to hire Kim Orth as Tourism Director. In recent email conversations with the Mayor, the Mayor informed us that the meetings were executive sessions (closed meetings), and that we should ask the H/M board for them. What? It’s hard to understand why there is still a reference to requesting anything from the H/M Board, since the Attorney General has already ruled against this position taken by the City.
The State’s Open Meetings Act comes down pretty hard on closed meetings. In particular it says:
To implement this policy, the General Assembly declares:
(1) it is the intent of this Act to protect the citizen's right to know; and
(2) the provisions for exceptions to the open meeting requirements shall be strictly construed against closed meetings.
In particular, there are specific criteria for conducting a closed meeting. And in light of the position the City has taken that the Tourism Director is a contractor, not an employee, there is no valid reason that this meeting was closed. This will require additional action on our part to correct. The statute says:
(c) Exceptions. A public body may hold closed meetings to consider the following subjects:
(1) The appointment, employment, compensation, discipline, performance, or dismissal of specific employees of the public body or legal counsel for the public body, including hearing testimony on a complaint lodged against an employee of the public body or against legal counsel for the public body to determine its validity.
The insistence that the proceedings of these meetings not be made public is curious. And only access to how these meetings were actually conducted will shed any light on them. Since they were closed meetings, the Open Meetings Act required that they be recorded, so we will be requesting them as well.