Transparency Trumps Technology: Reconciling Open Meeting Laws with Modern Technology

By Roeder, Cassandra B. | William and Mary Law Review, June 2014 | Go to article overview

Transparency Trumps Technology: Reconciling Open Meeting Laws with Modern Technology


Roeder, Cassandra B., William and Mary Law Review


TABLE OF CONTENTS  INTRODUCTION I. BACKGROUND     A. Open Meeting Law Definitions     B. Goals of Sunshine Laws         1. Transparency         2. Public Participation         3. Efficiency     C. Modern Technology II. EMBRACING TECHNOLOGY     A. Providing Information and Soliciting Feedback     B. Remote Participation III. AVOIDING TECHNOLOGY     A. Interactive Online Forums         1. Transparency         2. Efficiency         3. Public Participation     B. Group E-mails and E-mail Forwards         1. Transparency         2. Public Participation         3. Efficiency     C. Responses to Counterarguments IV. COMPETING GOALS: BALANCING TRANSPARENCY WITH     PUBLIC PARTICIPATION AND EFFICIENCY     A. Necessary Sacrifices         1. Public Participation         2. Efficiency     B. Valuable Gains CONCLUSION 

INTRODUCTION

As technological advances revolutionize communication patterns in the private and public sectors, government actors must consider their reactions carefully. Public representatives may take advantage of modern technology to improve communications with constituents and to operate more efficiently. (1) However, this progress must be made with an eye to complying with certain statutory restrictions placed on public bodies.

open meeting laws require that certain governmental bodies discuss and decide matters of public interest at planned, advertised meetings in full view of the public. (2) Most open meeting statutes, however, have not been updated for many years and thus fail to instruct public bodies on how to square their provisions with modern technology. (3) As a result, many government actors struggle to comply with open meeting statutes when attempting to use available technology to benefit themselves and their constituents. (4)

Legal scholars have noted the difficulties inherent in applying the restrictive provisions of open meeting laws to advances in technology. (5) Some argue that the benefits to be gained from public bodies' utilization of technology, particularly interactive online forums and group e-mails, outweigh potential harms. (6) These scholars conclude that, if these technologies do not comply with existing laws, lawmakers must amend open meeting statutes to allow for their use. (7) This Note contributes to existing legal scholarship by providing a concrete proposal for public bodies' use and avoidance of available technologies while preserving the primary goal of open meeting laws: transparency.

This Note will argue that, in order to comply with the spirit and the letter of open meeting laws, public bodies should limit use of modern technology to: (1) providing information and soliciting public feedback through noninteractive websites, and (2) enabling remote participation of public body members at meetings. This Note will then contend that public bodies should not utilize interactive online forums or group e-mails. Although these technologies may offer certain obvious benefits, this Note argues that: (1) they do not comply with current open meeting law requirements, and (2) legislatures should not alter open meeting laws to allow for their use. (8) It concludes that although more permissive statutes might lead to an increase in civic participation and government efficiency, these potential gains must be sacrificed in order to preserve transparency, the primary purpose of open meeting laws. (9)

Part I explains the circumstances under which open meeting law requirements apply. It also considers the goals legislatures hope to accomplish by enacting these laws and introduces the new technologies that must be squared with unclear statutory requirements. (10) Part II proposes two ways public bodies can and should utilize modern technology to further the goals of open meeting laws without risking noncompliance. Part III then argues that interactive online forums and group e-mail usage are bound to conflict with legal requirements and that legislatures should not alter public meeting laws to allow for their use. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

Transparency Trumps Technology: Reconciling Open Meeting Laws with Modern Technology
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.