This blog contains my opinion on many issues. I share links to news stories that are reported across the state by various media. And I do some independent local news-gathering, posting information that the local newspaper ignores.
While I am cautious about mentioning things that I hear that have not been verified, there is a rumor going around that there was recently an (unannounced) meeting of a small group of elected and appointed officials who were engaged in important discussions of public business and expenditures.
[NOTE: This meeting may have been held in violation of the Tennessee Open Meetings Act. While not all elected or appointed officials are covered by the Sunshine Law, this meeting allegedly included two or more officials who are covered by the Sunshine Law and whose participation in an unannounced meeting to deliberate about public business could rise to a violation of the letter and/or spirit of the Tennessee Open Meetings Act. This is not an accusation of a violation because I don't know the specific nature of the discussions nor the identity of all participants.]
The public was not notified of this meeting.
The press apparently was not notified, but we'll have to wait and see if that glitch creates a problem for any of those involved in the meeting.
While the press has never reported when lowly John and Jane Taxpayer are not notified about public meetings, the press just may be ticked when the NEWSPAPER isn't notified!
One solution to solve the dilemma of whether a particular discussion or meeting is a true violation of the Sunshine Law would be to have a public message board for local public officials to use in order to share information with one another---AND THE PUBLIC. Knox County did this after the Knox County Commission was cited for private meetings and deliberations between commissioners. You can also reach the Knox County website here and then click on Commission Forum to see the public message board.
We are approaching the annual celebration of Sunshine Week in Tennessee. And the Citizen-Tribune, as it has always done, will have a wonderful editorial extolling the virtues of Tennessee's Open Meetings and Open Records Acts ("Sunshine" laws).
And at the same time, the Citizen-Tribune knows that there are unannounced meetings taking place in Hamblen County where important discussions and/or deliberations about the spending of millions of taxpayer dollars are taking place in the dark.
You can't have a "public" meeting without adequate notice to the public!
Wouldn't it be refreshing if the Tribune did more than write an editorial once-a-year about how important the Sunshine Laws are?