Monday, February 21, 2011

Open Meeting Violation?

We hear the following from a community resident:
Neither tonight's meeting nor the negotiations meeting tomorrow have been properly noticed in the Star.  I called the Star this morning to see if I overlooked it.  The person I talked to verified that there were no notices and said they must have made the request too late to make the deadline.  I don't think the board can hold a legal meeting.
The issue at hand is: does a public notice have to actually appear in the paper?  Or can the district just SEND it to the paper?  One can argue that with the wide availability of the Internet, by virtue of posting a meeting Notice on the district website (BoardDocs) is sufficient.  The district also posts notices at the District Office.  The District send notices to the library, but we learned recently that the library doesn't always post them.

Last week a similar violation was alleged because notice was not found in the STAR -- the district's official newspaper-- in the usual location (back of section 2, with other notices).  We learned that on this occasion, the STAR published the Notice in question in the "LifeStyles" section.  Seems logical to us (NOT!). the very least does the district have to consider whether or not the STAR is adequately serving us in its role as the official newspaper?  Should the meetings be cancelled tonight?

The state's Open Meetings Law Guide states the following:

Note, however, that the requirement to provide notice to the officially designated newspaper is distinct from the requirement to provide notice to the public.  If the chief presiding officer chooses to provide notice to the public by paid publication in a news medium, the officer must ensure that the notice is in fact published.