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Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Closed Sessions

Most meetings of the Town Board are required to be held in public. North Carolina General Statutes recognize a handful of circumstances (lawyer-client privilege, negotiating a real estate deal, etc.) where meetings may be held in closed session, and some (personnel matters) that must be held in closed session. In all cases, before going into closed session, the board must declare the reason. Minutes must be kept of closed sessions and the minutes must be opened when the matter is no longer necessary to remain closed.

I have asked that at least the closed session minutes of the past two years be reviewed, and that we take action at the next meeting of the Town Board to open all possible minutes. I would like to go as far back as possible, into the records of previous boards as well, to correct this oversight.

I have found that we were not always careful to confine our closed session discussion to the reason declared. We need to be more careful in the future. As a practical matter, I think no harm was done, though we should be somewhat embarrassed. Still, we need to make most of the minutes public, except for discussions of personnel and a few other matters, which must remain closed.

We need to be scrupulous about complying with the open meetings act.

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