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Thursday, November 30, 2006

Mr. Mayor, a request

Dear Mr. Mayor,

As you invite the community to join volunteer boards to help you make your decisions and shape the direction of the city, may we request that you keep your promise of transparency – and do it without reminders from the media of the state’s open meetings laws.

But just in case you’ve been busy with the responsibilities of your early days in office, here’s a refresher: “The law grants the public the right to attend and record the deliberations of public bodies including city and parish governing bodies; school boards; levee boards; port commissions; boards of public utilities; planning, zoning and airport commissions; other state, local or special district boards, commissions or authorities with policy making, advisory or administrative functions; and committees or subcommittees of those bodies.”

Of course the law provides some privacy – your volunteer board can meet behind closed doors to discuss the character or professional competence of your CAO candidates. But there’s a difference between discussing John Deaux’s work history and discussing the overall qualifications of the CAO job.

If in doubt, err on the side of public disclosure. And remember to give at least 24 hours notice.

For a layman’s explanation of the state’s public records/open meetings laws, read the Citizens' Rights Card by the Public Affairs Research Council at


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