Monday, June 29, 2015

Executive sessions the focus of a recent SC Supreme Court ruling

In a recent SC Supreme Court case involving the City of North Augusta, Stephen P. Donohue sought to invalidate the city’s ordinance amending an existing redevelopment plan.

In 1996, the City of North Augusta adopted an ordinance creating a Tax Increment Finance district and Redevelopment Plan for the revitalization of the city’s riverfront. In 2013, the council amended the Redevelopment Plan to include a minor league baseball stadium, convention center, parking deck and various other structures.

The Court refused to invalidate the amended ordinance after finding that council adhered to the procedural requirements related to public notice and hearings in the state’s Freedom of Information Act. However, the Court determined that council did not satisfy the FOIA’s specific purpose requirement before going into executive session on 11 separate occasions.

The Court noted that the council's description of the purpose of the executive session as a "proposed contractual matter" wasn't specific enough to meet the requirements of the Freedom of Information Act.

Although the Court did not go so far as to specifically describe what council should have included in its announcement of purpose pursuant to Section 30-4-70(a)(2), it indicated that there is a difference between the level of specificity required when stating its reasons for entering executive session pursuant to Section 30-4-70(a)(2) through (a)(4) and the level of specificity required when entering executive session pursuant to (a)(1) or (a)(5).

A council seeking to go into executive session should cite the relevant subsections of Section 30-4-70 (a) along with the required statement of the purpose, and should be more specific in that statement when going into closed meetings pursuant to (a)(2) through (a)(4). 

Read more here. Also read an Uptown article with a Q&A regarding executive sessions.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Municipal Association board endorses removal of the confederate flag

The board of the Municipal Association of SC today endorsed removing the confederate flag from the grounds of the State House.

“It is time to put the issue of the Confederate flag to rest,” said Anderson Mayor Terence Roberts, president of the Municipal Association. “South Carolina can heal only by building community. The City of Charleston is courageously proving this can be done. Let’s join together as individuals and as South Carolinians to help our state heal from this tragedy.”

President, Mayor Terence Roberts of Anderson

First Vice President, Mayor Alys Lawson of Conway
Second Vice President, Mayor Bill Young of Walterboro
Third Vice President, Mayor Elise Partin of Cayce
Past President, Mayor Joe McElveen, Jr. of Sumter
Mayor Welborn Adams of Greenwood
Mayor Dick Cronin of Isle of Palms
City Administrator Ed Driggers of Greer
Councilmember Sandra Gantt of Pendleton
Mayor Charlene Herring of Ridgeway
Mayor Dwayne Howell of Turbeville
Councilmember Joe Lee of Port Royal
Councilmember Sheryl Patrick of Santee
Mayor Jack Scoville of Georgetown
Mayor Harold Thompson of Union
Councilmember Octavia Williams-Blake of Florence
Mayor Gerald Wright of Denmark