Medford City Council Study Session
February 14, 2013
The meeting was called to order at 12:13 p.m. in the Medford Room, City Hall, 411 W. 8t Street, Medford with the following members present.
Mayor Gary Wheeler; Councilmembers Al Densmore, Bob Strosser, Karen Blair, Daniel Bunn, Dick Gordon and John Michaels.
1. Public Meetings Law/Quorum: John Huttl, City Attorney addressed the Council and provided an overview of the public meetings laws. He spoke to the definitions of a public body and public meetings in state law. He noted that a quorum of a governing body may not meet in private to deliberate on a public issue. He provided examples of court cases pertaining to this law. Use of the less than quorum rule to discuss issues outside of a public meeting is allowed. However the courts do not want this to interfere with the public process. It is not a hard and fast rule about outside conversation and it becomes an issue when the "intent" is to circumvent the public meeting law.
Councilmembers discussed the issue and Mr. Huttl noted that there is not a clear answer and the courts look to the “intent” of the discussion. He noted that it is difficult to say that one person can violate public meeting law that it has to be a group. Councilmember Densmore spoke to the Council not become so overly concerned that the sharing of expertise be stifled.
2. Executive Session: Mr. Huttl addressed the Council regarding the rules governing executive sessions. He provided an overview of the rules and purposes when declaring an executive session is allowed. Councilmember Gordon spoke to his concern regarding the frequency of the use of executive session by the Council. He noted he feels Council needs to conduct as much of the business of the Council as possible in public and does not want the Council to abuse the executive session privilege. He noted that the question is not when the Council can declare but should the Council use the executive session privilege.
Councilmember Strosser noted that often the facts and basis for the reason for the executive session may not be revealed until the executive session is underway.
Bob Hunter, Mail Tribune addressed the council regarding if an executive session is held and reporter feels the Council or Board is drifting off the declared topic, then the reporter has the right to report what was discussed.
Councilmember Blair noted she is uncomfortable with the number of executive session that the Council is holding.
Meeting adjourned at 1:16 p.m.