Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Claxton Paper Sues Commission Open Meetings Law Being Challenged

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Claxton Paper Sues Commission Open Meetings Law Being Challenged

Article excerpt

CLAXTON, Ga. -- A Claxton newspaper has sued the Evans County Commission in what may be the first test of the state's newly strengthened open meetings law.

The Claxton Enterprise alleges that the commission was discussing budgetary matters when it closed a July 1 budget workshop and then a July 6 meeting to the media and public.

Public boards are allowed to conduct closed-door sessions for certain reasons.

The law, which went into effect July 1, requires the chairman to sign an affidavit after the meeting swearing that the board's discussions did not veer into topics the public should have been allowed to hear. The chairman could be charged with a felony for false swearing.

Two of the reasons allowed for closing meetings are litigation and personnel matters. At the first meeting, officials said it was for litigation but did not have a required lawyer present and later admitted the mistake.

County Commission Chairman Marty Todd said he closed the second meeting to discuss compensation for a county recreation department employee. …

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