By Richard Calhoun
Powder Springs City Attorney
I believe a response to former Councilman Bevirt’s recent column regarding open meetings in Powder Springs is appropriate.
First, I am not aware of any complaints filed with, or by, the state Attorney General’s office alleging violations of the Opening Meetings Act by the City of Powder Springs.
As I understand it, where such complaints are made, the policy of the Attorney General’s office is to notify the government agency involved and request that the agency respond to the complaint.
To my knowledge the City has received no notice of any such complaints, nor, as city attorney have I received notice of any such complaints.
Secondly, with regard to the three permitted exceptions to the open meetings statute, and in particular the “personnel” exception, the topics which may be discussed under this exception include discussion, or deliberation upon:
1.) appointment of a public officer or employee
2.) employment of a public officer or employee
3.) compensation of a public officer or employee
4.) hiring of a public officer or employee
5.) disciplining of a public officer or employee
6.) dismissal of a public officer or employee
7.) periodic evaluation of a public officer or employee; or
8.) rating of a public officer or employee.
A discussion is “consideration of a subject by a group” and deliberation is “discussion and consideration of all sides of an issue; or “thoughtful, careful or lengthy consideration”.
Obviously, there can be quite a broad array of questions asked, statements made, facts debated and ideas exchanged which are relevant or material to a discussion or deliberation involving the above topics.
Furthermore, when other matters falling under the remaining statutory exceptions to the Open Meetings Act (land acquisition and consultation with legal counsel) are also addressed in closed session, the breadth of permitted topics of discussion and deliberation necessarily expands.
I am not aware of any instances where it could not be fairly said that executive session discussions by the Powder Springs Mayor and Council included topics which were neither relevant nor material to the matter under consideration pursuant to an identified exception to the Open Meetings Act.