LPPJ Committee has Improper Secret Session

For the second time this year, a Lincoln Parish public body apparently has violated provisions of the state’s Open Meetings Law.

The Personnel/Benefits Committee of the Lincoln Parish Police Jury (LPPJ) on Tuesday night met in executive session to “review applications for parish treasurer and recommend qualified finalists for interview.”

However, the committee failed to have a roll call vote on the motion for executive session, nor did the motion clearly state the reason for the session.

LA RS 42:16 Executive Sessions

The vote of each member on the question of holding such an executive session and the reason for holding such an executive session shall be recorded and entered into the minutes of the meeting.

Secondly, the Open Meetings Law does not make an exception for the discussion of an appointment to a public body.

LA RS 42:17 Exceptions to Open Meetings

A. A public body may hold an executive session pursuant to R.S. 42:16 for one or more of the following reasons:
(1) Discussion of the character, professional competence, or physical or mental health of a person, provided that such person is notified in writing at least twenty-four hours, exclusive of Saturdays, Sundays, and legal holidays, before the scheduled time contained in the notice of the meeting at which such executive session is to take place and that such person may require that such discussion be held at an open meeting. However, nothing in this Paragraph shall permit an executive session for discussion of the appointment of a person to a public body or, except as provided in R.S. 39:1593(C)(2)(c), for discussing the award of a public contract. In cases of extraordinary emergency, written notice to such person shall not be required; however, the public body shall give such notice as it deems appropriate and circumstances permit.

Finally, during the secret meeting, the committee reviewed the applicants, and recommended finalists to be interviewed, according to a source who was in the meeting. Review is permissible, but the recommendation cannot be done in secret.

LA RS 42:16 Executive Sessions

An executive session shall be limited to matters allowed to be exempted from discussion at open meetings by R.S. 42:17; however, no final or binding action shall be taken during an executive session.

Accordingly, we have filed a formal complaint with the Third Judicial (Lincoln, Union Parishes) District Attorney asking that the committee’s action be declared null and void. The Open Meetings Law has a provision that requires the local DA to take action if a complaint is made.

LA RS 42:25 – Enforcement

B. Each district attorney shall enforce the provisions of this Chapter throughout the judicial district within which he serves. He may institute enforcement proceedings on his own initiative and shall institute such proceedings upon a complaint filed with him by any person, unless written reasons are given as to why the suit should not be filed.

Also, we have filed a public records request with the Police Jury’s Custodian of Records seeking the names of the applicants who have applied for the Parish Treasurer position.

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3 Responses to “LPPJ Committee has Improper Secret Session”

  1. Anonymous Says:

    Laws are for the little people.

  2. vee Says:

    Thank you so much for holding accountable those we elect. They seem to forget who pays their salaries and who they represent and what laws govern them. Thank You.

  3. On The Outside Looking In Says:

    This may just be semantics, but I don’t equate the “hiring” of an employee of the police jury (treasurer) to the “appointment to a public body”. It would seem to me the latter would be to fill a vacancy on the Library Board, a Fire District Board, etc. That being said, I do agree that the procedure used to go into the executive session was contrary to law, and the fact that a decision was reached in the confines of the executive session was also wrong.

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