Lord Help Me, If I Get Elected
That Aint Gonna Happen
|At a recent budget meeting, Mayor Arp once again
publicly pledged that he was not going to comply with the open meetings
law. When asked about the status of the Salary and Benefits Committee,
Arp informed the committee that the elected officials have been meeting
on a regular basis to discuss employee matters such as salaries,
benefits and insurance cost sharing for employees. None of these
meetings have had public notice. Arp made his dissatisfaction with the
News Herald's reporting on previous meetings very clear.
Arp is under the misconception that just because he hasn't appointed commissioners to that committee, then those meetings aren't public. Unfortunately Arp is grossly mistaken. The open meetings law is very clear and precise.The Sunshine Law provides in T.C.A. § 8-44-102(b)(1) that the term “governing body” to which the law applies means:
The members of any public body which consists of two (2) or more members, with the authority to make decisions for or recommendations to a public body on policy or administration....The term "public body" is not defined in the Act; however, the Tennessee Supreme Court has noted with respect to the term that:
It is clear that for the purpose of this Act, the Legislature intended to include any board, commission, committee, agency, authority or any other body, by whatever name, whose origin and authority may be traced to State, City or County legislative action and whose members have authority to make decisions or recommendations on policy or administration affecting the conduct of the business of the people in the governmental sector. (Source CTAS)
If the elected officials Arp refers to are planning to make recommendations for commissioners to consider it is clear that the meetings of that committee are subject to the open meetings law. Certainly it is much easier to hold meetings in secret when dealing with sensitive issues such as employee wages and benefits. Fortunately however, it is also against the law. Changes in employee salaries and benifits could have great impact on county employees and the tax payers.
This is not the first time Arp has openly bosted about how he is beating the sunshine law. He has told other groups how he has out witted the law.
Everyone should be greatly concerned with Arp's flagrant and open violation of state laws. Once it starts, where does it end.