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The FOI Advocate is a compendium of ideas, edited story excerpts and other materials from a variety of Web sites, as well as original concepts and analysis. When the information comes directly from another source, it will be attributed and a link will be provided whenever possible. The blog relies on the accuracy and integrity of the original sources cited. We will correct errors and inaccuracies when we become aware of them.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Sunshine Mulligans in Vermont...

From the Burlington Free Pres comes news of a troubling decison in Vermont, where a judge apparently believes that violating the state's open meetings laws can be remedied by a "do over..."

"A recent judge's ruling on the South Burlington School Board's violation of Vermont's open-meeting law is the latest in a series of decisions that have upset free-speech advocates.

Judge Matthew Katz in December ruled that even though the board violated the law by holding an emergency, closed-door meeting to craft a goodbye deal with the then-superintendent, the board remedied its actions by holding a public meeting a few days later when it voted on the agreement.

Although he said that the board did not show proof that it complied with the law, Katz, as he did in a similar ruling in 2005, said it was unlikely that the board would violate the open meeting law in the future. He assigned no punishment to the board and left the plaintiff to pay for his legal fees. (The board, for its part, said in an opinion piece published by a local newspaper that had the case gone to trial, it would have proved it acted legally.)

The judge's action has free-speech advocates wondering what will deter other boards from meeting in secret and who will want to challenge their government when, even if in the right, they will have to pay their own legal costs...."

From the Burlington Free Press.

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