Their view: Electronic messaging violates Open Meetings Act

The Las Vegas City Council last year discussed public business by e-mail. New Mexico’s attorney general recently let council members know they can’t skirt the state’s Open Meetings Act by communicating electronically.

Here’s commentary from Sarah Welsh, executive director of New Mexico Foundation for Open Government:

“Call it what you will. Special meeting. Work session. Retreat. E-mail messages. Texting.

“If a quorum of a public body is discussing public business, they have to follow the Open Meetings Act.

“That means issuing public notice and an agenda.

“It means allowing the public to attend the discussion.

“It means keeping minutes.

“The Las Vegas City Council didn’t do that in February 2009 when the mayor and select councilors discussed city personnel issues via e-mail.

“So the Attorney General’s Office cried foul last month in a letter to the city.

“We hope this puts other public bodies on notice — electronic communication is great, but it’s not a license to skirt sunshine laws.”